OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma has a focus right now on improving the financial aspect of both the teaching profession as well as childcare.

One local nonprofit hopes to tackle both with a new service and an attractive signing bonus.

“If we don’t have high quality childcare centers open and operating with great teachers, who can make connections with children and families, then the whole economy will shut down,” said Paula Gates, Sunbeam Chief Program Officer. “It really is the basis for our workforce, for all fields in Oklahoma.”

That basis is a focus right now for Sunbeam Family Services right now in Oklahoma City.

Sunbeam has partnered with Oklahoma City Public Schools since 2004 – providing a free pre pre-k of sorts for infants through 3-year-olds in its Early Head Start Program for qualifying families.

“We don’t use the word ‘daycare’ anymore,” Gates said. “We have lesson plans for infants. We do parent-teacher conferences twice a year.”

Sunbeam is expanding this program from its current three OKC public schools to Millwood Public Schools – a district Sunbeam says is in an at-risk area of the metro.

“It will give us a true to life jumpstart,” said Chris Harrison, a Millwood graduate and the incoming Sunbeam board president. “We’ve always said that once you’ve been a part of Millwood, you never can leave.”

He and those at Sunbeam are hoping competitive pay will help bring in new members to what they call a family environment.

Teachers can make up to $21 an hour – depending on their experience.

Sunbeam is also offering a $2,000 sign on bonus – to get more teachers in the classrooms and parents back in the workforce.

“I just I think this is really an opportunity to get into a field that is foundational for our state, for our economy, to be able to come in and make a difference for children,” Gates said.

Sunbeam’s funding comes from an early head start grant for Oklahoma County.

They’re also offering an a paid apprenticeship program for those wanting to enter the early childhood education field.

If you’d like to apply, go to Sunbeam Family Services’ website