Effective early care and education leaders work with and empower others to join together in transforming the current ECE system into one that is equitable and effective for all children and families, and that values ECE professionals. In addition to understanding child development and learning, today’s leaders must navigate complex policies and political terrain in their efforts to improve the quality of ECE services.

The demand has never been greater for leaders who are effective as agents of change. Yet the ECE field faces multiple leadership challenges, including:

  • A lack of well-articulated competencies for ECE leadership, and of education and training programs in leadership development.
  • Insufficient information about the characteristics of current ECE leaders.

Public resources and policies currently support leadership development in such professions as K-12 teaching, special education, and nursing. Similar investments and policies are urgently needed in order to better understand the needs of today’s ECE leaders, promote the development of competencies that articulate the necessary knowledge and skills for making lasting improvements in environments for young children, and establish leadership programs that are widely available and accessible.

To improve the leadership capacity of the early care and education field, CSCCE recommends the following federal and state actions:

  • Support research to identify the professional development needs of emerging and established leaders, as well as effective leadership preparation strategies.
  • Collect workforce data on those working in ECE leadership roles in settings other than centers and homes.
  • Establish leadership competencies that describe the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are needed for understanding the complexities of the ECE system, engaging effectively in the development and implementation of public policy, and working with others within and across disciplines to enact change.
  • Invest in policies and initiatives that establish and expand higher education and community-based leadership development programs, including incentives to expand the cultural and linguistic diversity of ECE leaders.

Download our full policy recommendations on Leadership Development

Our current related projects:

Beyond Homes and Centers

Leadership Learning Gap

Advancing Diverse Leaders