YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The York County Educators Award Program puts money in teachers’ pockets to improve early childhood education.

“This program form provides financial incentives to early childhood teachers and staff to improve the quality of their programs, continue their education, and to remain in the childcare industry,” said Peter Brubaker, a member of the Early Learning Investment Commission.

And this need was found in York County’s 2022 Economic Action Plan.

It showed several childcare centers are closing for a lack of both staff and funding, which makes it tough for children to get the proper education.

“I just feel like there’s nothing more important than getting a child and a family off on the right start in life,” said Christy S. Renjilian, executive director of Community Connections for Children.

Last year, nearly $459,000 went to more than 300 teachers, impacting over 4,000 students.

“I know that if we can start our youngest children off on the right foot, research tells us that there will be more successful in school and life and it’s so much easier to prevent problems than to try and deal with them later on in life,” said Renjilian.

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In order to qualify for the award, educators must teach children up to 12 years old, have at least an associate’s degree, and be part of a family childcare program or group childcare program.

“The consistency of the teachers and the quality of their education directly benefits the education and the care that the children receive in the program,” said Jessica Jacobs, director of Still Meadow Nazarene Childcare Center.