The Early Childhood Care
and Education Workforce
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
A Workshop Report
Committee on Early Childhood Care and Education Workforce:
Board on Children, Youth, and Families
INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE AND
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
This study was supported by Contract No. HHSP23337014T between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.
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Suggested citation: IOM (Institute of Medicine) and NRC (National Research Council). 2012. The early childhood care and education workforce: Challenges and opportunities: A workshop report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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COMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION WORKFORCE: A WORKSHOP
ALETHA C. HUSTON (Chair), Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor of Child Development, Human Development and Family Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin
DAVID M. BLAU, SBS Distinguished Professor of Economics, The Ohio State University, Columbus
RICHARD N. BRANDON, Principal, RNB Consulting, Seattle, WA
JEANNE BROOKS-GUNN, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York
VIRGINIA BUYSSE, Senior Scientist, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
DEBORAH J. CASSIDY, Director, North Carolina Division of Child Development, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Raleigh, NC
CATHERINE DOWER, Associate Director, Research, Center for the Health Professions, University of California, San Francisco
YOLANDA GARCIA, Director, West Ed E3 Institute-Excellence in Early Education, San Jose, CA
SHARON LYNN KAGAN, Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, Columbia University, Teachers College, New York
ROBERT G. LYNCH, Professor of Economics, Chair, Department of Economics, Washington College, Chestertown, MD
DIXIE SOMMERS, Assistant Commissioner, Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC
MARCY WHITEBOOK, Director and Senior Researcher, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley
HOLLY RHODES, Study Director
ALEXANDRA BEATTY, Senior Program Officer
REINE Y. HOMAWOO, Senior Program Assistant
ROSEMARY CHALK, Board Director
WENDY KEENAN, Program Associate
JULIENNE PALBUSA, Research Assistant
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This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Harriet Dichter, First Five Years Fund
Eugene Garcia, Arizona State University
Robert Pianta, University of Virginia
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Caswell A. Evans of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Appointed by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authors and the institution.
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More than 30 years ago, Children at the Center (Ruopp and Irwin, 1979) called attention to the important role of teachers and caregivers who were serving an increasing percentage of young children. A decade later the National Child Care Staffing Study (Whitebook et al., 1990) brought the issues of teacher education and training, turnover, and wages to the forefront of national discussion and established their link to the quality of caregiving. Over the years, such major studies as the Cost, Quality, and Child Outcomes Study (Helburn, 1995) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care (NICHD, 2002) firmly established the importance of quality care to the well-being of children and their later success. The long-term follow-up of the Perry Preschool (Schweinhart et al., 1993) and Abecedarian programs (Campbell and Ramey, 1995) documented the economic benefits to investing in early childhood programs. Earlier reports from the National Research Council (NRC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), such as Who Cares for America’s Children? (NRC, 1990), From Neurons to Neighborhoods (NRC and IOM, 2000), and Eager to Learn (NRC, 2001), synthesized the child development research, showing the critical nature of the birth-to-age-5 period of life for later success, the importance of quality experiences for children, and the central role of teachers and caregivers in early childhood care and education settings.
The research picture is clear—quality of care and education matters to the lives of young children, and teachers and caregivers are central to providing that quality. Fittingly, initiatives at the state and federal
levels have sought to bolster the skills and knowledge of the workforce, to tie their educational attainment to higher pay, and to reduce teacher turnover. Yet, the problems identified more than 30 years ago—inadequate training and education, low wages, and high turnover—are still vexing today (Herzenberg et al., 2005; Kagan et al., 2008; Whitebook, 2003; Whitebook et al., 2001). To tackle these issues, policy makers need a complete picture of teachers and caregivers—their professional preparation, working conditions, compensation, training, and qualifications. Knowing how many teachers and caregivers are in the workforce and how economic forces affect it is the starting point for making decisions about the most cost-effective ways to build the profession of early childhood care and education (ECCE) in ways that ultimately benefit children and families. Although such information appears to be straightforward, in practice painting a comprehensive picture of the ECCE workforce is quite complex. Detailed data are available for segments of the workforce such as state prekindergarten programs and Head Start, but are much sparser for family, home-based, and relative child care. The lack of consensus on a definition of the ECCE workforce poses a fundamental challenge.
The Committee on Early Childhood Care and Education Workforce was asked to plan a workshop sponsored by the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the IOM and NRC, with support from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address this challenge. This effort was encouraged by the leadership of Joan Lombardi, deputy assistant secretary and interdepartmental liaison for early childhood development at ACF, who sought to bring needed attention to the ECCE workforce. Our committee’s primary charge was to plan a workshop that would provide an adequate description of the workforce and to outline the parameters that define the population.
Thus, we organized the workshop around three key areas: (1) defining and describing the ECCE workforce; (2) exploring characteristics of the ECCE workforce that impact children; and (3) describing the context that shapes the workforce and how to build the profession of early childhood care and education. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop. As a workshop report, this report does not reflect the conclusions or judgments of the committee, but rather describes the research and perspectives that were presented. The report also includes two commissioned papers. The first presents a description of the ECCE workforce based on a review of federal data sources and 50 research studies. This paper also includes detailed descriptions of all of the reviewed studies. The second paper offers a detailed description of relevant federal data sources, the elements they include, their struc-
ture, and their benefits and drawbacks for obtaining data on the ECCE workforce.
The committee would like to thank the study director for this project, Holly Rhodes, for overseeing the project from its inception; Alexandra Beatty for providing an initial draft of the report from which the report was developed; and Reine Homawoo for excellent logistical and project support. We also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of report editor, Laura Penny and report review officer, Elisabeth Reese. Finally, the committee extends sincere thanks to Joan Lombardi and T’Pring Westbrook, and their colleagues at the Administration for Children and Families for their support.
Aletha C. Huston, Chair
Committee on Early Childhood
Care and Education Workforce:
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