Three Steps to Success: Prepare, Support, Reward
Approximately two million people care for nearly 12 million children between birth and age five in early care and education centers and homes across the United States. Thousands more provide support in related roles such as training and professional development for practitioners, and technical assistance for early learning programs.
Policymakers and stakeholders require comprehensive and longitudinal data about the professional preparation and development, ethnic and linguistic background, and compensation and tenure of the ECE workforce. These data and findings can inform efforts to address such chronic problems as low wages, high turnover, and inadequate access to training and education. Public investments in state and national early childhood data systems have historically lagged behind those for K-12 education data. Federal and state data policies now call for integrated early childhood data systems, linking child, program, and workforce information. Such efforts are necessary in order to conduct much-needed research about the best ways to prepare, support and reward the early care and education workforce.
Better Data Lead to Better Policy
To ensure that these data systems include high-quality, comprehensive workforce data, CSCCE recommends:
States continue to develop and strengthen workforce data systems:
- Use data systems already in place, such as statewide registries, the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Project, and NACCRRAWare/TTAM, as the foundation for the workforce component of integrated ECE data systems.
- Enact policies requiring all members of the ECE workforce employed in licensed child care settings and in settings receiving public subsidies, as well as all those who provide professional development and technical assistance to this workforce, to participate in state workforce data systems.
- Support the integration of workforce data systems with other systems such as licensing databases, resource and referral databases, quality rating and improvement systems, early childhood health data, and K-12 data.
Federal leaders continue to encourage and assist states in developing data systems that track workforce demographics and educational characteristics over time:
- Provide resources to enhance existing state workforce data systems.
- Require states to include information about all members of the workforce employed in regulated and publicly-funded early learning programs, and in related organizations that are part of the greater ECE infrastructure, in federal reports.
- Resolve longstanding problems in federally funded data sets, including outdated job definitions and limited information about the education and training of the ECE workforce.
Better Research Leads to Better Policy
To expand our knowledge about effective approaches to preparing, supporting, and rewarding the early care and education workforce, CSCCE recommends:
Federal leaders promote federally funded workforce research:
- Establish a national research collaborative to identify effective approaches to preparing, supporting and rewarding teachers and providers who work with young children—with increased attention to children’s linguistic and cultural diversity, and to children with special needs.
- Assess the effectiveness of higher education programs, professional development approaches, and work environments in supporting teachers’ ongoing learning—an essential component of continual quality improvement.
- Require use of standard key workforce variables in federal and state workforce data collection, including: educational background, specialized early childhood preparation and professional development, demographic characteristics, job title, compensation, and tenure.