Three Steps to Success: Prepare, Support, Reward
Decades of research link better compensation and work environments to the recruitment and retention of highly skilled early care and education practitioners, and to higher-quality services for children. Yet wages and benefits for early educators remain among the lowest in the country, fueling high turnover and undermining efforts to improve quality. Further, many teachers work in environments that do not adequately support their ongoing professional development and learning. Initiatives to reward and support this workforce often suffer from insufficient and undependable funding.
Teacher well-being leads to child well-being
Effective teaching of young children requires dedicated public funding to improve the compensation and work environments of early care and education practitioners. To achieve this goal, CSCCE recommends:
Public investment in identifying and testing strategies to improve the compensation of professionals working with children from birth to age five:
- Convene a federal commission of multidisciplinary experts to generate policy solutions for increasing wages and expanding key benefits, including vacation and sick leave, health insurance, and retirement plans for early care and education practitioners.
- Include compensation benchmarks in state and local quality rating and improvement systems.
State investment in supporting better adult learning and work environments as a critical ingredient in providing higher-quality early care and education:
- Expand the scope of quality initiatives to focus on improving elements of the work environment that are critical for teacher growth and development.
- Establish positive and supportive work environment benchmarks for quality rating and improvement systems, focusing on teaching supports, adult well-being and learning opportunities.
- Expand the quality and availability of on-site education and professional development opportunities utilizing mentoring, training, and practicum experiences.
- Support research that identifies and measures best practices to help practitioners engage in ongoing learning and quality improvement.
Federal and state investment and support for recruiting the next generation of early childhood educators:
- Launch a national campaign to communicate the value and skills of the ECE profession and to recruit the next generation of early learning practitioners.
- Invest workforce development funds in an Early Learning Careers Initiative that promotes the skills and rewards of careers working with young children.
- Reach academically successful high school students through an investment in Advanced Placement (AP) child development courses and college scholarship programs for early learning professionals.