We conduct cutting-edge research and propose policy solutions aimed at improving how our nation prepares, supports and rewards the early care and education workforce to ensure young children’s optimal development.

Below is a chronological list of our published reports. You can also view reports related to one of our four core priorities by clicking on the issues above.

The State of Early Childhood Higher Education in California

Teaching the Teachers of Our Youngest Children: The State of Early Childhood Higher Education in California
by Lea J.E. Austin, Marcy Whitebook, Fran Kipnis, Laura Sakai, Ferheen Abbasi, and Felippa Amanta

This report, released in 2015, looks at how higher education programs have evolved over the last decade, examines how institutions of higher education are adapting to emerging research and changes in the California policy environment, and offers recommendations to address the field’s current limitations.

Read the highlights of our findings and the full report.

Interested in more details? The full technical report is also available here.





Posted October 2015.

Strengthening the math-related teaching practices of the early care and education workforce: Insights from experts

Strengthening the math-related teaching practices of the early care and education workforce: Insights from experts
By Sharon Ryan, Marcy Whitebook, and Deborah Cassidy

Published in March 2014 with support from the Heising-Simons Foundation, this policy report explores the perspectives of nationally recognized experts in the field of mathematics and early care and education about three main issues:
1. The knowledge and competencies that practitioners need in order to teach mathematics to young children;
2. Effective strategies for educating practitioners to support young children’s mathematical development; and
3. The challenges and successes that these experts have experienced in math-related ECE workforce development efforts

Posted February 2015.

Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study

Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study
by Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes

Full Report | Executive Summary | Event Webcast | Media | Report Order Form

“Good quality care requires an environment that values adults as well as children.”
– National Child Care Staffing Study, 1989

The National Child Care Staffing Study (NCCSS) released in 1989, brought national attention for the first time to poverty-level wages and high turnover among early childhood teaching staff, and to the adverse consequences for children. In the succeeding 25 years, combined developments in science, practice, and policy have dramatically shifted the context for discussions about the status of early childhood teaching jobs, and the importance of attracting and retaining a well-prepared workforce that is capable of promoting young children’s learning, health and development.

Today, the explosion of knowledge about what is at stake when early childhood development goes awry has coincided with powerful economic arguments for investments in high-quality early care and education. New evidence about the ways in which stress and economic insecurity challenge teachers’ capacity to provide developmentally supportive care and education is lending scientific support to the claim that child well-being depends on adult well-being not only at home but in out-of-home settings. And, serious debate at the federal level, echoed in virtually every state, is underway about the vital importance of improving the quality of early education, and the most productive strategies for ensuring that young children’s critical early experiences will promote, not undermine, their lifelong learning and healthy development.

Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages compiles evidence from multiple sources to provide a portrait of the early childhood teaching workforce today in comparison to 25 years ago. The need to rely on a variety of data sources to obtain this portrait reveals the absence of a comprehensive, regularly updated database on the status and characteristics of the early childhood workforce. In addition to examining trends in center-based teachers’ education, wages and turnover, the report includes new evidence examining economic insecurity and use of public benefits among this predominantly female, ethnically diverse workforce. The report also appraises state and national efforts to improve early childhood teaching jobs, and offers recommendations aimed at reinvigorating a national conversation about the status and working conditions of the more than two million teaching staff who work in our nation’s early care and education settings.

Special thank you to CentroVITA in Berkeley, CA for the cover picture.

Full ReportExecutive Summary

Selected Appendix Tables

Mean Hourly Wages by State for Childcare Workers, Preschool Teachers, and Kindergarten Teachers

Annual Program Participation Rates in Public Support Programs for Childcare Worker Families, by Selected States

Average Annual Public Support Program Costs for Childcare Worker Families, by Selected States

Previous NCCSS Reports

Who cares? Child care teachers and the quality of care in America. Final report, National Child Care Staffing Study

National Child Care Staffing Study revisited: Four years in the life of center-based child care

Worthy work, unlivable wages: The National Child Care Staffing Study, 1988-1997

Posted November 2014.

Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce

Building a skilled teacher workforce: Shared and divergent challenges in early care and education and in grades K-12 prepared by Marcy Whitebook for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2014.

Across the K-12 and early care and education (ECE) communities, similar conversations are underway about how to recruit teachers and strengthen their preparation, how to provide ongoing learning experiences for new and veteran teachers, and how to organize school environments to ensure that all teachers can best address the needs of an increasingly diverse child population. But these conversations are also widely divergent, given that the histories of the two sectors have led to distinct personnel and service delivery systems.

In order to develop an early learning strategy for the U.S. that is capable of improving educational outcomes for young children, it is critical to understand the personnel-related opportunities and challenges the ECE sector faces, as well as how these differ from those encountered in the K-12 sector. This paper discusses the public perception of early childhood teaching, the history and purpose of education for children of different ages, and describes key features of the personnel systems that have emerged from these varied roots, comparing them along several dimensions, and offers several suggestions for promoting a skilled and stable early care and education workforce for the 21st century.

The Foundation commissioned a series of papers to understand the impact of high-quality early childhood programs that are effective in producing lasting gains for young children. Read Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce and Lessons from Research and the Classroom.

Posted September 2014.

From Aspiration to Attainment: Practices That Support Early Childhood Degree Attainment, Los Angeles Universal Preschool’s Child Development Workforce Initiative

by Marcy Whitebook, Diana Schaack, Fran Kipnis, Lea J.E. Austin, and Laura Sakai

This study sought to understand what distinguishes students who are successful at earning degrees or transferring to four-year institutions from those who are stalled in their progress or who dis-enroll from school. The study explored student success from two perspectives: those of college staff who support students toward degree attainment and transfer-ready status, and those of the students themselves, representing different categories of student progress.

Executive Summary

Full Report

Posted November 2013.

Access to Quality: Early Learning for California Preschoolers in Subsidized License-Exempt Settings

Prepared for the California Department of Education and the California State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care by The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley (2013)

Many of California’s at-risk preschool-age children receiving subsidized child care services are being cared for by license-exempt providers. Many of these children could benefit from, but do not participate in, organized, high-quality preschool or school-readiness experiences. The Access to Quality Early Learning Project, supported by the California Department of Education Child Development Division explored: 1) the reasons why parents choose license-exempt child care, and their knowledge of the options that may be available to them; 2) the opportunities for and barriers to improving school readiness experiences for at-risk children who attend full-time, license-exempt child care; and 3) how license-exempt providers, and school readiness and preschool programs, might better coordinate and blend their offerings for families.

This report summarizes the findings of this exploration, and offers recommendations that can be used to inform policy strategies promoting greater participation by high-need children, now cared for exclusively in license-exempt settings, in quality educational environments that ready them for elementary school. (pdf)

Posted August 2013.