This part of the report focuses on the development of the care and education workforce that supports children from birth through age 8. The goal is to review the available mechanisms that can contribute to developing a workforce with the appropriate knowledge, competencies, and supports for quality professional practice.
As described in previous chapters, children from birth through age 8 interact with a large number of professional roles in many different settings and sectors. As discussed in this part of the report, different roles have variations in pathways for training, professional learning systems, licensure and credentialing systems, and other policies for oversight and accountability. In keeping with the scope of this study (described in Chapter 1), this part of the report focuses on educators who have regular (daily or near-daily), direct responsibilities for the care and education of young children in home- and center-based childcare settings that span birth through age 8, as well as preschools and elementary schools. In some cases, as with the knowledge and competencies addressed in Chapter 7, the discussion is inclusive of closely related professions such as home visitors, early intervention specialists, and mental health consultants, who may not have the same frequency of direct interaction with a child as educators but are closely linked to the professional practice of the educators who do and share some of the same professional learning systems. Those in leadership roles are also included as an important part of the care and education workforce.
This part of the report consists of four chapters. It begins with Chapter 8, which presents a framework for considering the key factors that contribute to workforce development and quality professional practice for care and
education professionals who work with children aged 0-8. This framework extends beyond the systems and processes that contribute directly to the development of knowledge and competencies to encompass such elements as the practice environment, policies affecting professional requirements, evaluation systems, and the status and well-being of these professionals.
Chapter 9 focuses on higher education programs and on professional learning during ongoing practice. Chapter 10 turns to several other key factors in the comprehensive framework presented in Chapter 8. It begins by reviewing current qualification requirements for educators who work with children from birth through age 8, and considers the extent to which these existing requirements accomplish the goal of standardizing the quality of professional practice across this workforce. This chapter also examines systems and processes for evaluating educators of children from birth through age 8, as well as program accreditation and quality improvement systems.
Finally, Chapter 11 turns to factors in the committee’s framework for quality practice that are not always thought of as aspects of professional learning, but are nonetheless essential to developing a workforce capable of providing high-quality care and education for children from birth through age 8. These include institutional and other factors that contribute to the work environment and the status and well-being of these educators, such as compensation and benefits, staffing structures and career advancement pathways, retention, and health and well-being.
Part V/Chapter 12 of the report then builds on these and the preceding chapters to present the committee’s recommendations for how stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels can work together to improve systems for professional learning and workforce development.