Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

by Dr. Jill Bella


This document may be printed, photocopied, and disseminated freely with attribution. All content is the property of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership.

Note: This resource is part of a self-reflection series called “Points to Ponder.” Read the rest of the series here.

According to Google, the phrase put your money where your mouth is means “to take action in support of one’s statement or opinions.” If you talk about the importance of continuous learning, have you put your program’s money where your mouth is by demonstrating that within your policies and practices? It has been said that a budget is a reflection of a program’s values and priorities—if you truly value professional development, it will be reflected in the budget (as well as your policies).

Item 5 in the Program Administration Scale (PAS), considers professional development as a benefit. At the good and excellent levels, an “employer provides [a specific dollar amount or more] per year to all employees to pay for or reimburse professional development expenses.” This “professional development benefit gives employees financial support to access professional development of their own choosing. Supervisor approval may be required.” The specific dollar amount is $100 at the good (5) level and $200 at the excellent (7) level. Like most benefits, guaranteeing professional development funds to each employee is costly and means determining priorities and making financial decisions that impact your bottom line. However, assigning a specific dollar amount to each staff member demonstrates transparency and fairness. A policy stating the specific dollar amount ensures that funds are allocated for this benefit and indicates that professional development is valued.

Points to Ponder

Do you value professional development in your program? If so, take a look at your budget and consider whether it reflects professional development as a value. If you do offer a specific dollar amount to each employee, is there any limitation or restriction (e.g., must work for the program for at least one year, only available to full-time staff, or only for conferences)? Restrictions such as requiring supervisor approval help ensure professional development is appropriate or aligns with individual goals. If there is a restriction(s), reflect on the purpose and whether or not is necessary.


Jill Bella, Ed.D., is Director of Professional Learning for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership and Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University (NLU). In these roles, she oversees professional learning, conducts research, and consults for local and state initiatives on the Early Childhood Work Environment Survey (ECWES), the Program Administration Scale (PAS), the Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care (BAS) and leadership topics in early care and education. Dr. Bella is also the co-author of several books and trainer’s guides including A Great Place to Work and Inspiring Peak Performance.

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