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Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation

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Children are already learning at birth, and they develop and learn at a rapid pace in their early years. This provides a critical foundation for lifelong progress, and the adults who provide for the care and the education of young children bear a great responsibility for their health, development, and learning. Despite the fact that they share the same objective - to nurture young children and secure their future success - the various practitioners who contribute to the care and the education of children from birth through age 8 are not acknowledged as a workforce unified by the common knowledge and competencies needed to do their jobs well.

Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 explores the science of child development, particularly looking at implications for the professionals who work with children. This report examines the current capacities and practices of the workforce, the settings in which they work, the policies and infrastructure that set qualifications and provide professional learning, and the government agencies and other funders who support and oversee these systems. This book then makes recommendations to improve the quality of professional practice and the practice environment for care and education professionals. These detailed recommendations create a blueprint for action that builds on a unifying foundation of child development and early learning, shared knowledge and competencies for care and education professionals, and principles for effective professional learning.

Young children thrive and learn best when they have secure, positive relationships with adults who are knowledgeable about how to support their development and learning and are responsive to their individual progress. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 offers guidance on system changes to improve the quality of professional practice, specific actions to improve professional learning systems and workforce development, and research to continue to build the knowledge base in ways that will directly advance and inform future actions. The recommendations of this book provide an opportunity to improve the quality of the care and the education that children receive, and ultimately improve outcomes for children.


Suggested Citation

Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2015. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

706 pages |6 x 9
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-32485-4
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-32488-5

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xvi
Summary 1-16
Part I: Introduction and Context 17-18
1 Introduction 19-42
2 The Care and Education Landscape for Children from Birth Through Age 8 43-54
Part II: The Science of Child Development and Early Learning 55-56
3 The Interaction of Biology and Environment 57-84
4 Child Development and Early Learning 85-204
Part II Summation 205-206
Part III: Implications of the Science for Early Care and Education 207-208
5 The Importance of Continuity for Children Birth Through Age 8 209-238
6 Educational Practices 239-324
7 Knowledge and Competencies 325-354
Part IV: Developing the Care and Education Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 355-356
8 Overview of Factors That Contribute to Quality Professional Practice 357-364
9 Higher Education and Ongoing Professional Learning 365-420
10 Qualification Requirements, Evaluation Systems, and Quality Assurance Systems 421-460
11 Status and Well-Being of the Workforce 461-482
Part IV Summation 483-484
Part V: Blueprint for Action 485-486
12 A Blueprint for Action 487-562
Appendixes 563-564
Appendix A: Biosketches of Committee Members and Staff 565-578
Appendix B: Public Session Agendas 579-588
Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field 589-632
Appendix D: Historical Timeline: Preparation for the Care and Education Workforce in the United States 633-650
Appendix E: Credentials by Setting and State 651-666
Appendix F: Tools and Examples to Inform Collaborative Systems Change 667-676
Appendix G: Funding and Financing Examples 677-690



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