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IRLE eNews, Summer 2010: The Year in Review

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment's Year in Review Report - Academic Year, Fall 2009-Spring 2010

For many years, innovations in early care and education have been spearheaded primarily by state, local, and philanthropic leadership, as evidenced by the expansion of state-funded pre-k and professional development systems. With the election of Barack Obama, the federal government has now assumed a leadership role, focusing on both increasing its investment in early learning and care and on improving the quality of services. Interest in improving early learning and care experiences for young children is shining a spotlight on those who provide the services, namely the early care and education workforce. Many who previously gave only cursory attention to workforce issues now recognize their importance, particularly because of the federal requirement for the new Early Learning Advisory Councils (ELAC) to lead efforts to develop their state professional development systems.

As policy makers and other stakeholders become immersed in workforce issues, they encounter a web of issues that demand attention. Many seek research evidence to inform their decisions, only to encounter either a dearth of data –for example, the lack of ongoing information about the demographic and educational characteristics of those who work daily with children in licensed and/or publicly subsidized homes or centers -- or conflicting or inconclusive data about more and less effective approaches to professional preparation, the significance of educational degrees and how best to provide ongoing professional development and link it to improved compensation.

Some challenges, such as a difficult to maneuver professional development system, involve investment in infrastructure for which there are now promising models in several states. At the same time other issues, like inadequate compensation, are endemic to the entire, inadequately resourced, early care and education system and call for a major overhaul of United States policy. Understanding the interconnections among these various issues, and the consequences of addressing them in different sequences, are among the types of issues that policy makers and advocates now face. The complexity of these issues leads them to seek assistance from those with expertise in workforce development policy.

This focused attention expands the platform for our work at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment in two major ways. First, heightened interest in workforce issues from many quarters leads more people to our research and policy reports for information about the characteristics of the early care and education workforce, their needs for education, professional development and improved compensation, and examples of promising practices and policies. CSCCE is broadly recognized as the "go-to place" for reliable information and advice on the child care workforce.

Second, requests to the CSCCE for technical assistance have increased dramatically in recent months from a variety of quarters, covering the range of topics we have been examining for some time -- professional development systems, integrated workforce data systems, access to quality higher education for the ECE workforce, workforce environments that promote and support learning and professional development, and improved compensation. We have been asked to share our expertise by those leading early learning efforts in the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, as well as by national advocacy groups, and state and local policy makers and advocates from across the country. In addition, we continue to be called upon to lend our expertise to California's early learning workforce efforts.

In 2009/10 CSCCE completed the following reports/resources:

  1. Learning Together Year 2 Report: A Study of Six BA Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education provides students' assessment of the innovative structure of these programs and how they have contributed to their retention in school and their ability to create positive classroom environments for children. (Release date May, 2010)
  2. Beyond Centers and Homes: A Look at the Workforce in Three California Early Childhood Infrastructure Organizations provides a snapshot of the demographic and educational background, as well as the educational aspirations, of staff working in organizations and programs that provide much of the education and professional development available to those working with children each day. These organizations serve as the liaisons between families and the many services and programs upon which they depend, and often represent the field to the public and policy makers. In addition, these organizations house many of the established and emerging leaders in the field, who often are called upon to make decisions about how public resources are spent. (Release date May, 2010)
  3. Leadership in Early Childhood: A Curriculum for Emerging and Established Agents of Change provides training for advocates, policy makers, community college instructors, child care center directors and others about the policies, politics and power relations underlying the early childhood system and strategies for making it more equitable and better quality.

In addition, during 2009/10, CSCCE staff have been working on three projects which will result in reports in 2010/11.

  1. No Single Ingredient: The Impact of Education and Work Environments on Teacher Practice breaks new ground in observing and assessing teacher practice by examining both the context and method of delivery of teachers' educational degrees, their opportunities and support for ongoing, on-the-job learning, and features of the work environment that either support or hinder them in demonstrating their competencies and applying their knowledge and skills.
  2. In collaboration with the Rand Corporation, an analysis of the challenges facing CA in building a skilled and stable early learning workforce study; and
  3. A report on current data collected on federally-funded professional development projects in California, which will include recommendations for building a more comprehensive, longitudinal data system for informing public investment in early learning workforce development.

In 2009, CSCCE's access to these federal policy makers was unprecedented. We met with Joan Lombardi, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development, and Shannon Rudisill, Director of the US Child Care Bureau, and their staff at HHS on two occasions, and with the Department of Education's Jacqueline Jones and Barbara Bowman, Special Advisors on Early Learning to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. In 2010 we have continued to provide technical assistance to the federal leadership on four key areas of workforce policy: 1) access to quality higher education for the ECE workforce; 2) workforce environments that promote and support learning and professional development; 3) integrated workforce data systems; and 4) leadership development.

In addition to our work at the federal level, CSCCE will continue to work with policy makers, advocates and other stakeholders in a number of states through our ongoing work with the Birth to Five Policy Alliance/Packard funded project to develop a framework for states to collect high quality, consistent workforce data on early care and education providers. This project includes:

  1. Development of materials to assist states and relevant ECE organizations in their workforce data collection efforts, as well as integrating with child-level data, early childhood program data, and k-12 data;
  2. Providing assistance to NACCRRA, T.E.A.C.H.® and the National Registry Alliance (TNRA) to coordinate with each other and to promote and expand the use of their workforce data systems within and across states; and
  3. Providing leadership within the Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) on incorporating workforce policy questions and data elements into ECE data systems.

The work with the ECDC also extends our relationships with several national organizations such as PreK Now, the National Governor's Association, the National Council of State Legislators, the National Center on Children and Poverty, and the Council of Chief School Superintendents.

Efforts to design a career development system in California and to leverage support for its implementation have presented a challenge to stakeholders for several years. California's dire fiscal environment, combined with substantial policy disagreements, has stalled advances in many arenas of social policy. In 2009/10CSCCE has continued its ongoing efforts to both design a career development system in California and leverage support for its implementation. This will be done in conjunction with a wide range of stakeholders in the early care and education community.

Our work in the coming period will continue to focus on building an integrated, effective early care and education professional development system in California. At the same time, we will increase our national policy activities to leverage new federal resources and policies related to critical workforce development issues. As in the past, our work at the state level in California and our national work will be mutually reinforcing. In addition, we will design and implement a communications strategy to increase our visibility and influence as the only organization in the country focused exclusively on early care and education workforce research and policy.

Below is a selected list of presentations by CSCCE Director, Marcy Whitebook in 2009/10.

  • July, 2009. Keynote presentation. The adults who work with young children in CA. California Early Learning Quality Improvement System Advisory Committee, Professional Standards and Workforce Incentives Subgroup. Sacramento, CA.
  • September, 2009 Addressing Diversity and stratification in the early care and education workforce: Public policy levers. The National Registry Alliance Conference, Mystic, CT.
  • January, 2010. Workforce Development, Peer Advocate Roundtable, National Meeting, Birth to Five Policy alliance. San Diego, CA..
  • January, 2010. Early learning workforce development. Briefing to Senior Staff of the U.S Department of Education, Washington, DC.
  • January, 2010. Underpaid child care professionals. Finding the path to better pay. Radio interview broadcast on NAEYC Radio, http://www.naeyc.org/newsroom/NAEYCradio Body, Mind and Child.
  • February, 2010. Prepare, Support, Reward. Briefing to Intergovernmental Early Learning Workforce Workgroup, U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Washington, DC.
  • February, 2010. Integrating ECE workforce data into P-2- Longitudinal Data Systems, National Association for the Education of Young Children,, Public Policy Forum, Washington, DC.
  • March, 2010. Impacting child outcomes through quality workforce development, First 5 California and Water Cooler Joint Conference, Sacramento, CA.
  • March, 2010. National and state intiatives to devleop high-quality early care and education workforce data systems. National Association for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) Policy Forum, Washington, DC.
  • March, 2010. Expanding and Improving Existing Early Learning Workforce Data Systems. Briefing to Interdepartmental Early Learning Data and Workforce Study Group. Department of Education, Washington, DC.
  • March 2010. The Obama Administration and Early Learning: Implications for leaders. Mills College, Leadership and Policy Master's Seminar. Oakland, CA.
  • April, 2010 Listening and Learning about Early Learning, U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, The Early Learning Workforce and Professional Development, Denver, CO.

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