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Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation (2015)

Chapter:Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
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Appendix C

Information-Gathering from the Field

SITE VISITS

During the course of the study, committee members and staff gathered information through site visits and interviews in three locations, Chicago, Illinois; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Washington State. The purpose of the site visits and interviews was to explore topics and issues relevant to the study charge from the perspective of stakeholders familiar with the pragmatic realities of local environments, including the policies, systems, and services or programs that relate to both children ages birth through 8 and the adults who provide for them. They informed the committee’s deliberations by eliciting insight from those with policy, practice, and implementation experience, including examples of successes and challenges.

The site visits and interviews were an opportunity to provide the committee with information that cannot be readily obtained through documentation and other means. The locations, specific sites to visit, and interviewees were chosen by the committee and staff using purposeful sampling. The selections were based on the topics identified as priorities to explore using this approach and were designed to include a range of perspectives and experiences, example approaches, practice settings, and professional roles covering the range from infancy through the early elementary years. The selections do not reflect any conclusions the committee drew about best practices or exemplars. The site visits and interviews were not intended to be a comprehensive research effort, but served as an important complement to the committee’s many other information-gathering activities and approaches.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

A list of participating organizations and individual participants is provided below. This is followed by highlights of key themes from the information gathered.

Participating Organizations

Bremerton Early Childhood Care and Education—Birth to Five Collaborative

Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) Tulsa

Children’s Home + Aid

Collaboration for Early Childhood

Community Action Project (CAP) Tulsa

De Diego Community Academy, Chicago Public Schools

Educare Chicago

Educare Seattle

Educare Tulsa

Erikson Institute

Everett Public Schools

George Kaiser Family Foundation

Harold Washington College, City College of Chicago

Healthy Families Chicago

Illinois Action for Children

Illinois State Family and Parent Association

Illinois State Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development

Infant Welfare Society of Evanston

National Louis University McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership

Naval Avenue Early Learning Center, Bremerton School District

Oklahoma Early Childhood Program

Ounce of Prevention

Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center, Union Public Schools

Rosa Parks Elementary School, Union Public Schools

Rosia’s K T C Family Childcare

Spokane Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools

University of Oklahoma–Tulsa Early Childhood Education Institute

University of Washington College of Education

Washington State Department of Early Learning

Washington State Educational School District 105

Washington State Educational School District 189

Washington State Legislature, 16th District

Washington State Legislature, 32nd District

Washington State Legislature, 48th District

Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Wee Are the World Home Daycare

White Center Heights, Highline Public Schools

Individual Participants

Faith Arnold

Tracy Bayles

Michelle Boatright

Celeste Bowen

Juliet Bromer

Brendan Bulger

Caren Calhoun

Lexi Catlin

Patricia Ceja-Muhsen

Christi Chadwick

Gerard P. Clancy

Steven Dow

Monique Draper

Claire Dunham

Libby Ethridge

Amy Fain

Donna Gearns

Leslie Gilbert

Linda Gilkerson

Linda Hamburg

Theresa Hawley

Jessica Hollingsworth

Diane Horm

Holly Householder

Ross Hunter

Cynthia Jones

Gail Joseph

Ruth Kagi

Kristie Kauerz

Karen Kiely

Susan Knight

Chris Koch

Lynn Lahey

Vickie Lake

Tom Layman

Chris Maxwell

Dona Maye

Diana McClarien

Lynn McClure

Andrew McKenzie

Kellie Morrill

Juliet Morrison

Teresita Patino

Vickie Pendleton

Anne Reece

Rosario Rodriguez

Deborah Rogers-Jaye

Diana Rosenbrock

Elizabeth Rothkopf

Michelle Saddler

Diane Scruggs

Ruth Slocum

Julie Smith

Lorna Spear

Amanda Stein

Linda Sullivan-Dudzic

Sharon Syc

Teri Talan

Kathe Taylor

Pat Twymon

Annie Van Hanken

Karen Vance

Jaclyn Vasquez

Erin Velez

Maureen Walsh

Rosia Watson

John Welsh

Paige Whalen

Maria Whelan

Shanel Wiley

Amy Williamson

Cass Wolfe

Vicki Wolfe

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Key Themes from Site Visits

Overall Key Messages1

  • Importance of strong, supportive, and strategic leadership throughout systems that support care and education—leaders who understand and value early childhood, are reflective and intentional, and understand and value the importance of building relationships.
  • Importance of establishing a common language or other ways of supporting communication and understanding across systems and roles.
  • Importance of communicating the value of a birth through third grade continuum to everyone in the community, including administrators, educators, parents, and policy makers.
  • Strengths in higher education programs include
    • – Exposure to practice opportunities, especially those with diverse populations of children.
    • – All classes in the program addressing diversity and cultural sensitivity, but field placements in diverse settings seen as the best way to train for this.
    • – Exposure to engaging directly with families (e.g., learning to do home visits)—especially families from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds than the practitioners.
    • – Establishing a cohort who are available to each other as a support once they enter practice.
    • – Training for advocacy.
    • – Focusing support and professional development in the first year of professional practice.
    • – Alignment with alumni networks.
    • – Evaluation/accountability system for gauging whether students are graduating with the necessary knowledge/skills, including three components: knowledge, practice (self-assessment, site supervisor rating), and reflection (seminars, video project).
  • Combined education and professional learning for early care and education and early elementary practitioners is seen as beneficial to achieving a birth through age 8 continuum. A joint professional development system that is organized across content knowledge, cuts across ages, and allows educators to share content knowledge and discuss pedagogy. This also provides a clearer “line of site” on where the child has been and is heading.

_____________

1 These overall messages represent themes that emerged across all types of stakeholders interviewed during site visits.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • Absence of a fundamental knowledge of child development among educators.
    • – Early childhood/preschool educators were described as needing to learn more about direct, standards-based instruction in content areas and using data to inform instruction, while K-3 educators were described as needing to learn more about child development, socioemotional development, comprehensive services, and observational assessments.
  • The K-12 field has competing priorities that sometimes trump incorporating a developmental framework in its curriculum—and also trump developing meaningful partnerships and collaborations with the early care and education field. This is an issue of time as much as it is about (real and perceived) conflicting approaches (e.g., developmentally appropriate practice and Common Core, educator evaluation).
  • Family engagement and supporting parents comprehensively and as a partnership are critically important.
    • – Difficulty transmitting developmental science knowledge to families.
    • – Importance of addressing the empathy gap between practitioners and families.
    • – Doulas and home visitors work with families as a way to promote linkages/continuity.
  • Reflective and intentional practice (individual and facilitated) was seen as important.
  • Professional learning systems should be designed to accommodate the needs of the learners.
  • Increased salaries and professionalism of the early childhood workforce are viewed as necessary to raise the perceived value of the field. Salaries are also seen as an obstacle to creating any sort of comprehensive system, because noncompetitive salaries are linked to the continuity issue. Early childhood practitioners are leaving the jobs because of low pay. Promoting the professionalism of the workforce by using science to drive an understanding of their value would be beneficial.
  • Strong reliance on philanthropic funding was seen in most examples. However, one school district exemplified an alignment effort with minimal additional external funding. Initial early learning funding from a private foundation served as a catalyst in this district; otherwise it uses existing federal/state funding streams for early childhood and public school.
  • Challenge of coverage and access (promising programs and good opportunities, but not reaching all the children).
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Policy/Governance/Infrastructure/Systems

  • Collaborative arrangements among government agencies are key to a state’s ability to share information and develop cohesive plans and initiatives through the various systems. Despite these partnerships, however, there is still a need for better communication between state legislators, government agencies, administrators, and districts before decisions are made. Examples were seen of the departments of health and child and family services, and the state education agencies forming partnerships.
  • Layers of leadership within community: government, philanthropy, university. An example was seen of a community that has been galvanized around an issue that key leaders support (philanthropists, university president).
  • Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRISs) are seen as way to help with continuity of learning and focus on development across the birth through age 8 continuum.
  • Plurality and layers of schools (e.g., neighborhood, charter, private, special/magnet schools), which have varying policies and systems that affect student pipelines, make alignment challenging.
    • – Aligning private schools/programs with public schools can be difficult because rules and regulations are less forgiving (often due to collective bargaining agreements). Aligning to charter schools has its own challenges.
    • – Different types of institutions are working together to develop a common language/framework for working with children from birth through age 8 but need to traverse differences in teaching and learning approaches (e.g., developmentally appropriate practice versus standards-based instruction).
  • In a school district where a birth through third grade system is in place, every time a new school board member is elected, school administrators need to reeducate him/her on its value.
  • Subsidy eligibility requirements for specialized programs make families very vulnerable to displacement from the program due to changes to income or circumstances, e.g., employment. This poses a problem for continuity of services as children cycle in and out of program eligibility. Administrators are exploring strategies to provide a better safety net for families, for example, providing 12-month eligibility for subsidy recipients.
  • Policy makers need to be persuaded by the science.
  • Myriad policies and reforms across federal, state, and local governments and school districts make alignment difficult, e.g., Common Core, curriculum requirements. There is inconsistency between
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • policy and practice. In an effort to ameliorate these misalignments, in one site new age 0-3 year guidelines are being cross-walked with age 3-5 year guidelines, which are being cross-walked with Common Core.

  • Networks of peer support are developing, especially among family childcare educators, such as cohorts and communities of learners. Regional early learning coalitions that are made up of health care professionals, social workers, etc., have been set up in one site.
  • Efforts are being made to incorporate early care and education perspectives/practices into state educator evaluation and coaching systems for public schools. Also an effort is under way to align licensure/credentialing and policies for higher education programs with early care and education standards and competencies. There is a need to determine what education, professional development, and certifications are needed to support quality programs and services. Legislators in one state were not interested in requiring bachelor’s degrees at this point.
  • Legislators attempted to target quality of early childhood education by tying subsidies to educators meeting quality standards, but the bill did not pass. There was pushback from educators because many feel they are experienced, having provided services for a long time, and do not have the means or time to pursue further education.
  • Legislators believe they have no way to leverage changes in K-12 school systems, because there is district-level control.
  • Articulation agreements between 2- and 4-year institutions of higher education are seen as a system that should be made stronger.
  • A main challenge is the capacity to serve children and families who experience trauma. This is recognized at the level of governance.
  • Major needs:
    • – Time/money/facilities.
    • – To see early care and education connected to K-12 schools.
    • – To cross over the focus of early childhood practitioners on child development with the K-12 practitioners focus on instruction so that both systems come together.
    • – To establish a common way of knowing and assessing across birth through age 8—this is a systems issue if it is to work across birth to age 5 and K-12 schools.
  • Challenges to greater commonality are a product of having different funding streams, historical practices, and disparate goals.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Program/Initiative Implementation

  • Head Start critiques are around program’s administration, coverage, and reach, not programming. Untapped potential to serve the poor was attributed to regulations and administrative requirements, e.g., paperwork.
  • It was noted that a large number of children are not served by formal programs.
  • Transportation is an issue for access for children to programs and for engaging families.
    • – Families do not all have cars.
    • – Public transportation is limited or time consuming.
    • – Young children in one location visited cannot ride the bus due to seatbelt laws.
  • Characteristics of an example birth through third grade public school setting:
    • – Infant, toddler, preschool, Head Start, and kindergarten through third grade located on the same campus.
    • – Selection of high-quality educators.
    • – A grant from a private foundation for early learning support was obtained, as well as the support of the superintendent and school board.
    • – Lack of space is an issue, have a kindergarten overflow classroom.
    • – Support for children and parents transitioning from preschool to kindergarten:
      • Visits from children and parents in Head Start program and other preschools in the community to kindergarten classes, so that preschoolers could learn about kindergarten activities from the current kindergarten students.
      • Kindergarten educator goes to Head Start classroom to work with children that will be coming to kindergarten the following year.
    • – Preschool educators and kindergarten educators share some trainings and mesh expectations and negotiate targets for the transition from prekindergarten to kindergarten.
    • – Kindergarten educators hold parent meetings to provide home activities to help with literacy and math skills.
    • – Kindergarten through third grade educators meet regularly, which helps with continuity across the elementary grades.
    • – A district joint early care and education/early elementary professional development was an impetus for the elementary educators to incorporate more socioemotional skills in their instructional activities.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • – Early Head Start/Head Start on site
    • Head Start educators go to school district-wide training once per month.
    • Look at data for third graders to assess what to change in programs for ages birth to 5 to improve scores over time.
    • If child is having difficulty, a 2-week transition program is available in the summer in the kindergarten classroom before the school year starts.
    • Most educators have a B.A. or an A.A. degree, teaching assistants have an A.A. degree or are working on it.
    • Flexibility is practiced in ages of children transitioning from infant room to Early Head Start and Head Start.
    • All children get vision and hearing testing.
  • – A program is in place that attempts to reach parents who do not have children in preschool:
    • Offered for 1.5 hours once per month to about 10 parents each time.
    • Most parents are families in which the children do not qualify for Head Start but their families cannot afford preschool.
    • Staff provide children and their parents with learning activities to do at home.
    • Support is provided through funding an educator on special assignment.
  • – A childcare company connects principals/elementary schools with childcare educators:
    • Professional development is provided quarterly for educators.
    • A grant to pay educators to attend professional development meetings in hopes of building relationships that will show the importance of continuing education.
  • Characteristics of an example community linkages approach:
  • – A building design that is developmentally appropriate for children:
    • Windows are built at the child level, magnets on classroom doors to make it harder for young children to open them; bathrooms are built inside the classroom for young children; easy access to outdoor space with greenery and appropriate manipulatives.
    • Connected to elementary schools to facilitate transitions.
    • Co-location (early childhood program as part of the public school).
  • – Two-generation focus that engages parents and families
    • Career advancement program: Education courses for parents which enters them into the health care pipeline.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
    • A challenge was that the entering skill levels were lower than anticipated; therefore a developmental education piece was added.
    • – Family engagement
      • Educators visit parents and families at their home at the beginning of the year.
      • Structured drop-off routine for families and children because it is not developmentally appropriate for young children to ride the bus.
      • At the Early Childhood center, they have family support specialists/liaisons who are available to speak with families/parents as they arrive during child drop-off.
    • – Community schools and wraparound services
      • They have a variety of services: dental, health, social service collocation; a continuum of services under the roof of one school.
      • The Community School Coordinator coordinates partnerships and communication (learning to speak the same language among all practices); this cannot fall solely on the principal of the school.
    • – Assessments
      • No formative assessment exists to determine why there is a gap in scores for children in grades 1-3.
      • Prekindergarten screening exists, but no district-wide assessment for grades 1-3.
    • – Special needs
      • Young children are served in 10 programs in the district, and when they turn 5, they transition to the neighborhood school.
  • Characteristics of an example birth to 5 public–private program:
    • – Working to enhance academic programming while still strongly supporting socioemotional learning.
    • – Attempting to map Common Core backwards to provide what children need along the way.
    • – Access to comprehensive services and family advocates, who help families access services outside of the school.
  • Major needs/opportunities:
    • – Encouraging intentionality
      • Do the programs have a plan, goals, or are they just collecting fees for childcare?
      • Do they know they are more than just glorified babysitters?
    • – Programs need to be culturally relevant, embracing the diversity of communities, including economically diverse and diversity of ability.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Resources

  • Time is sometimes the most limited resource, especially for people already working in the field.
  • State funding for universal prekindergarten based on a weighted formula related to the number of children served and their daily attendance.
  • Universal voluntary prekindergarten is not covering all 4-year-olds.
  • Although public–private partnerships are a source of funds, the commitment of government agency support was seen as critical to development.
  • Head Start and non–Head Start funds blended in some centers, but centers are not able to share/redistribute resources equally (e.g., Head Start children take one school bus, non–Head Start children take another).
  • Partnerships are an important factor in providing services for children.
  • A need was expressed to release money from the silos and braid Head Start and childcare funding.
  • Because of the increase in early childhood programs and QRISs, there is an increased demand for highly qualified educators, but the supply does not meet the demand.
  • Because Race to the Top funds have been used to scale up professional development, there is concern about what will happen when that funding goes away.
  • A concern was voiced by practitioners that resources are being taken away from K-12 because the focus is now on early childhood.
  • If financial incentives are in place to encourage staff with higher quality, programs will adjust themselves.
  • Major needs/opportunities:
    • – Increase in consistency of funding, K-12 system has consistent source of funding versus early learning which has subsidies that come and go.
    • – Getting entire taxpayer community support.

Higher Education

  • Certification exam is used as a measure but has no relation to whether a person is a good educator. Educators should have to demonstrate competence as done in other fields, e.g., doctors, lawyers.
  • The issue of faculty quality in institutions of higher education. One institution of higher education described a project that helped
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • faculty become updated on the growing research on brain development and how it affects their instruction.

  • There is a lack of continuity in educator preparation programs.
  • The question about what is more valuable: B.A. degree or experience
    • – The reflection of executive functioning and life skills of those who earn a B.A. is important to recognize.
    • – There is an association between a B.A. and quality but it is not direct.
  • In order to serve diverse populations, a core skill is to be able to develop relationships with the families.
    • – Students who show knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices and of how to work with and talk to parents and families are stronger.
    • – Many educators do not know how to work with families; there is an empathy barrier. Specifically, educators do not understand poverty.
      • An example was given of Head Start educators going on home visits as a way to overcome this barrier.
  • Field training experiences, both independent and embedded in courses, were seen as a vital component of higher education programs.
  • Use of technology seen as an asset to providing quality education, e.g., guest lecturers via video, videotaping educators in training to provide feedback.
  • Use of intentional teaching framework—identify best evidence-based practices and develop a shared language of practice.
  • Support should be provided to students who may be returning to school later in life or are new to online learning. An example was given of two beginning courses to build confidence and skills in students:
    • – Technology (using videos and digital cameras, uploading information online).
    • – Resilient Educator (stress management, caring about one’s health and well-being).
  • Higher education opportunities for leadership
    • – Participants described benefits of a leadership program as
      • Networking/establishing partnerships.
      • Having a safe space to have difficult conversations and reflection on putting what has been learned into practice.
      • Value in having a framework to build a P-3 system, learning how to cut across the different systems, and learning the prioritization of the steps to take.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
    • Provides assistance with knowing how to communicate the value of a P-3 system to educators, district administrators, and the community.
    • Building leadership skills to bridge the communities, interpersonal communication skills, and advocacy skills.
    • Will increase the level of professionalism of leadership in early childhood.
    • Data sharing is uneven in implementation, so participants can assist each other with that issue.
    • Appreciate new information about brain development and family engagement.
    • Most participants did not see the P-3 Leadership program as an impetus for a career change, but said it will change the nature of their position to be more effective at what they do.
    • Value in discussion to stimulate shared language across levels of programs these individuals lead.
  • Gaps in training
    • – Educators in K-3 programs are not trained sufficiently on knowledge and skills around child development (psychological and cognitive) nor on developmentally appropriate programming.
    • – K-8 license may be too broad, options for endorsement types are being considered.
    • – There is a need to help early care and education professionals navigate pathways to further their education and credentials; for example, articulation is a challenge.
  • Major needs/opportunities:
    • – Coordination between 2- and 4-year colleges; development of meaningful articulation agreements.
    • – Focus on training educators together in birth through age 8 continuum.

Professional Learning During Ongoing Practice

  • An example of a statewide professional development system included a registry of providers, professional development advisers, core competencies, credentials, scholarships/wage supplements, and processes for approving training programs/trainers.
    • – One challenge reported is that higher education institutions are not required to align themselves to the professional development system.
  • The importance of focusing on support in the first year of teaching was emphasized.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • Compare/contrast community college to 4-year college graduates as potential hires
    • – When 4-year college students graduate, they are beginners.
    • – When students graduate from community college, often they are mid-career (because many times they are going back for degree after already being in the field).
    • – It was suggested, as potential employers, public schools should support the workforce from the community college because they are more seasoned.
  • Leadership/administration layer is seen as critical lever for change—responsible for day-to-day support of and environment for educators.
  • One school system received philanthropic funding to reinvent professional development, which is currently called professional learning.
    • – Nine-week themed modules and school system offers time for educators to participate.
  • In one school district, educators discuss what gaps in knowledge exist to determine what professional development is needed. New educators are assigned mentors.
  • Educators feel it is valuable to learn from other schools in district-wide professional development.
  • Professional learning communities, which include activities such as book reading, peer-to-peer learning, and joint professional development, were reported to be used in several school districts to align across preschool and elementary school.
  • Learning to use the data to improve instruction is new to the field.
  • The quality of online learning varies drastically but the potential is vast.
  • Professional development needs to be ongoing, linked to classroom practice, provide opportunities to reflect and check for understanding, and linked to a P-3 continuum, allowing educators to see backward and forward.
  • Professional development is embedded in the QRIS in one state. Coaching is provided by a state agency for 3-4 star rated programs. Childcare resource and referral agencies also provide additional coaching.
  • Practice is not keeping up with the science of adult learning—one-shot, 2-day workshops are useless.
  • Need better assessment of professional development workshops: no way of knowing whether or not anyone learned anything—there is a satisfaction survey, not an exam.
  • Major needs/opportunities
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • – Bring professional development courses to educators.
    • An example was seen of a child parent center working with a local university on professional development for educators, but it is only a thin slice of professional development that seeks to build capacity of the lead educator.
  • – Aligning funds for professional development—the funding for professional development is about the most flexible funding and least regulated there is—looking to mandate an integrated approach to professional development.
  • – Fully funded high quality preservice education and professional development.
  • – Time for early care and education and K-12 collaboration, professional development.

Practitioners

Knowledge/preparation of workforce

  • Knowledge gaps in the workforce:
    • – Fundamental knowledge of child development was identified as a knowledge gap in childcare educators.
    • – Classroom practices not aligned to development (e.g., 2-year-olds being asked to write their names, etc., versus exploration and play).
    • – Educators are not trained to be child psychologists, so they do not know how to deal with behavioral issues. It is a challenge to teach all students in a class when a few need special attention because of behavioral issues.
    • – Educators are not prepared to deal with increased diversity and do not understand what it means to be in poverty.
  • Increase in understanding of the science of child development will help others to understand the importance of early learning.
  • Must acknowledge the power that parents have.
    • – Recognition of parents as the first educators and the need to involve families.
    • – Parent education on the value of early learning.
    • – Pressure on educators from parents, directors, etc., to change practices so childcare is more convenient for adults (e.g., accelerating potty training for very young children). An educator in an ideal situation could explain to a parent that these things are not developmentally appropriate for a 2-year-old.
  • Suggestions for workforce development:
    • – Child development course in high schools.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • – Begin recruiting bilingual speakers in elementary and middle schools to view their future as a care and education professional.

Well-being of workforce

  • The health and well-being of the workforce affects children.
    • – Becoming a “resilient learner” includes educators’ care for their own health and well-being.
    • – Family childcare educators networks: especially active in taking care of each other and advocating for legislative changes to benefit profession.
    • – Group professional development was seen in some centers that have a “support system” through regular meetings within the professional development framework.
  • Self-care is often neglected. For doulas/home visitors it was noted that to help with this issue includes persuading directors/practitioners to recognize the stress of their jobs and teach about self-care so that they are more effective. Additional opportunities for helping with educator stress and burnout included providing scheduled leave time, yoga/fitness programs, coaching and mentoring, and peer support.

Professionalism

  • Increase pay and respect for early childhood field. Working with young children is a profession, but the workforce is not adequately paid.
    • – There is a need to dramatically change the way people view early care and education and professionalize it; this will help build a quality workforce.
    • – The need to elevate position of educators who work with 1- and 2-year-old children so that educators are paid equally to that of the public school educators.
    • – In one school system they are trying to reenvision how to support elementary educators, even in the face of salaries that cannot compete with nearby states.
  • High turnover of staff in Head Start was reported.

Relationships

  • Relationships are important.
    • – Mixed-aged classrooms benefit the students and the educator.
    • – Looping grades to establish continuity of educators.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
    • – Continuity of leaders/trainers of the educator.
    • – Continuity of the educator and family relationships.
  • In one school district, monthly meetings between preschool and kindergarten through third grade educators promote collaboration. Elementary school educators have more respect for what preschool does, kindergarten educators have a better understanding of “what they are getting” and preschool educators understand what the kindergarten educators need.
  • Diverse populations
    • – Family childcare educators discussed working with cultural diversity, religious diversity—no preparation but they had their resource network (among family childcare educators) which helped, along with developing a good relationship with the families.

Leadership/Management of Practitioners

  • Challenges for leadership (directors/principals) described at one site:
    • – “Birth to College”—the leaders among all institutions need to coordinate what they are doing and come together around common understanding (principals, center director).
    • – Leaders do not pay attention to their own development because there are few incentives to improve.
    • – Sometimes few incentives to offer professional development to educators; do not want to offer professional development to educators because they might lose them.
    • – If society does not value the early childhood workforce, why should directors care about investing in developing staff?
    • – Fractured communication that can be very political; however, there are initiatives to connect with principals and early childhood network leaders.
  • Lack of clarity in early childhood programs about expectations for knowledge and competencies in early care and education directors and educators.
  • Possible solutions
    • – Starting early with leadership development and identification.
    • – Incorporating early care and education content into principals’ preparation programs; administrators need a stronger understanding of child development.
    • – Developing a common vision/language/approach among different sectors.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • In one school district, there are three principal licenses, and only 3 of the 54 elementary school principals knew anything about early childhood.
  • A birth to age 5 public–private program that was visited uses an assessment for hiring leaders that evaluates leadership potential, stress management, core competencies and values.
  • Dedicated time for reflective practice, reflective leadership, and reflective supervision.
    • – Supportive supervision: recognizing and correcting in real time: moving from theory to daily practice.
  • A core competency for leaders includes the ability to talk to staff about things they might be lacking, in other words, the ability to have crucial conversations.
  • Administrators struggle with how to connect to the community.

Evaluation and Assessment

  • What is being assessed?
    • – Assessment of children birth to age 5 is about development; assessment of children 5 years old and up is about content.
    • – The assessment of family childcare educators measures the impact of their work as reflected in the children (e.g., “Is the child comfortable in her skin? Social competence and self-regulation? What are the child’s study skills like?”).
  • QRIS is an important component in requiring educators to meet standards.
    • – QRIS will drive education requirements.
    • – Governance interviewees talked about QRIS applying the same standards to early care and education programs across settings, including public schools. The current system makes some differentiation between settings and allows for different kinds of evidence.
  • In one example, a birth to age 5 public–private program is trying to introduce its assessment tools to the public school, but it is challenging because it is another language.
  • In another example, a performance evaluation advisory council has asked for guidance from early childhood to evaluate prekindergarten through grade 3 educators.
  • Privacy concerns about data: one school that was visited asks direct parent permission to share data.
  • Ambivalence/mixed reactions were reported toward a kindergarten entry assessment (KEA) used in one state.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
    • – Educators and administrators like the family engagement piece of the KEA. However, home visits by educators are costly; two people are needed for safety purposes.
    • – They do not like the observational techniques used.
    • – They feel that the assessment may be missing children that need help due to score inflation. Twenty percent of children that need help are left out.
    • – Some perceive the KEA as a way to get kindergarten educators to bear the burden of showing the effectiveness of early childhood programs, and to demonstrate the need for more support for early childhood programs.
    • – Some have seen the KEA improve shared understanding between early childhood educators and elementary school educators.
    • – The KEA requires a “cultural transformation” about teaching, learning, and assessment. The concept of observation assessment can be foreign to educators.
    • – The KEA can be an entry point for improving early elementary instruction. Educators may know how to differentiate children within a continuum (as opposed to assessing children against standards), how to scaffold children’s’ learning, and view learning and development comprehensively.
    • – There was concern about using the KEA for educator evaluation.
  • In one state, a teacher–principal evaluation model has focused modules (one of five categories) each year, but every 4 years a comprehensive evaluation is conducted.
    • – More focus is on the quality of teaching and instructional practice versus being evaluated on keeping the class quiet, for example.
    • – The district can choose among three frameworks for instructional evaluation. The district uses an evaluation, which is based on what children are doing versus collecting “artifacts,” e.g., lesson plans.
  • Major gaps reported in knowledge and assessments:
    • – Instructional support.
    • – Building critical thinking skills.
    • – Ensuring that materials are available.
  • A hybrid assessment tool, that combines the best parts of the KEA with content assessments, is reportedly being used in one state.
  • Major needs/opportunities:
    • – Optimism that QRIS can be a lever of change. If it were to achieve some of its goals—and serve as an opportunity for reflection and continuous improvement versus being a checklist—
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • it could be more of an opportunity to ensure that best practices are actually happening more.

  • – Create longitudinal data system—an integrated data system that tracks children over time to show how children are progressing and the impact of interventions.
  • – Ideal would be for demographic characteristics not to be a predictor of success.

Continuity and Linkages

Interprofessional

  • Need to integrate the health system into the education system. Medical information needs to reach educators. Educators need to be able to identify hungry children, find where disabilities are, and identify what struggles they are experiencing outside of school.
  • Community school model partners with after-school programs, service providers, the department of health, and the department of child and family services.
    • – Clinics are on site and for anyone in the community.
  • At one point, one city had 40 co-located school health clinics, but as a result of the state legislature rejecting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, the number has decreased to 4.
  • Interconnection between social services and education
    • – Improving computer system so that information can be shared across agencies.
    • – Currently about 20 percent of children move in and out of social service programs due to income eligibility. Would like to have 1-year eligibility for programs.
    • – Legislators expressed the desire to turn state funded childcare from a welfare program into an education program.
    • – Contrast seen between a birth to age 5 center funded through a public–private partnership, which provides access to social services, and the public elementary school, which does not provide similar services.
  • Examples of roles that work between sectors
    • – A doula works from prenatal care through child birth. As someone who works with the health system, one doula described how important it is to develop relationships and how that made her feel competent.
    • – Faculty from an institution of higher education described the role of child life specialists, who work in a health care setting to help children cope with hospital experience.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • How do you train people to work across sectors and ages?
    • – Educators are talking with other educators across the continuum, but not across sectors—“lip service” given to continuity and linkages.
    • – Embedding early childhood in different professions and sectors
      • One institution of higher education now has a Master’s of Social Work with early childhood embedded.
      • Intersector collaboration is also an important part of the training for its Early Childhood Special Education program and the infant/toddler program (e.g., training as Child Life Specialists in hospitals).
      • One participant proposed putting home visitors with a pediatrician.
    • – Home visitor and doula interviewees described the need for more consistent vision/language/approach when interacting with other professions.
  • Major needs/opportunities:
    • – Transform schools into centers for families providing a full continuum of services.
    • – Have a “family navigator” to help with consistency.

Within education systems

  • Importance of relationships between early care and education settings and elementary schools—a challenge can be when an elementary school does not have a clear feeder program.
  • Several examples were seen of practitioner continuity for the child over years of education (mixed age classes in birth to age 3 and ages 4/5; looping of educators in K-1 and 2-3).
  • Other examples were seen of educators and children doing classroom visits across ages (e.g., educators of children birth to age 3 visit 4-year-old classrooms at a center serving birth to age 5).
  • Community school model:
    • – Before students enter the first grade, the first grade educators visit the preschool program to meet the children to prepare for the transition.
    • – K-1 is looped, 2-3 is looped, and 4-5 is looped.
    • – The classes are situated next to one another (intentional space organization).
  • The need for a common language was a reoccurring theme.
    • – Not only for early care and education and K-12 professionals but also policy makers and other community leaders.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • Coaching—One state agency that provides coaching to K-12 educators is exploring ways to imbed early childhood elements in the system.
  • The importance of getting the birth to age 3 population involved in the continuum was mentioned, i.e., not just prekindergarten through third grade.
  • Home visits are known to be important, but educators still feel unsupported or unsure of how to make this part of their job.

MAPPING OF SYSTEMS AND EXPLORATION OF PROFESSIONAL LEARNING SYSTEMS

Additional interviews with thought leaders and practitioners were conducted by a consultant team to inform a mapping of professional stakeholders, systems, and professional roles in care and education and related sectors (see also Chapters 1 and 2) and to explore professional learning systems in greater depth from a range of perspectives across professional roles in the birth through age 8 continuum. Interviewees were selected through purposeful sampling by the committee, project staff, and consultants.

A list of interviewees and organizational affiliations is provided below. This is followed by highlights of key themes from the information gathered, including a brief summary of major overall themes, profiles of professional learning supports by professional role, and ideas for reenvisioning professional learning.

Interviewees

Anna Arlotta-Guerrero

Faith Arnold

Stephanie Byrd

Jaya Chatterjee

Sherry Cleary

Ida Rose Florez

Lynette M. Fraga

Saundra Harrington

Elizabeth Heidemann

Michelle N. Hutson

Elizabeth M. Hyde

Marilou Hyson

Marica Mitchell

Carrie A. Nepstad

Kelly Pollitt

Valerie Preston

Malik J. Stewart

Megan Stockhausen

Heidi Sullivan

Heather Taylor

Marcy Whitebook

Marty Zaslow

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Organizational Affiliations

American Federation of Teachers

Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

Child Care Aware of America

Child Trends

Cushing Community School

George Mason University

Gulf Coast Community Action Agency Head Start

Harold Washington College, City Colleges of Chicago

Infant & Toddler Connection of Norfolk

LifePoint Solutions

National Association for Elementary School Principals

National Association for the Education of Young Children

New York City Department of Education

New York City Early Childhood Development Institute/New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council

Red Clay Consolidated School District

Service Employees International Union

Success by 6 (Greater Cincinnati)

Sun Children’s Inc.

University of Pittsburgh

Virginia Home Visiting Consortium

Washington State Department of Early Learning

WestEd/First 5 California Early Education Effectiveness Exchange

Key Themes from Interviews

Overall Themes: Current State of Professional Learning Supports

A number of the interviewees commented about the “nonsystem” that is birth through age 8. These interviewees mentioned the need for a fundamental rethinking, and even creation of a birth through age 8 system.

Barriers to quality practice and professional learning

  • The main barriers mentioned by most interviewees were:
    • – Lack of time to pursue professional learning.
    • – Lack of available professional learning opportunities during nonwork hours.
    • – Lack of funds to pay for professional learning.
  • Many interviewees also mentioned lack of a professional community with whom to learn and sympathize. This isolated feeling is present especially in those working in systems serving children birth to age 5, and in small organizations.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • Other barriers mentioned include
    • – Staff turnover and the need to constantly retrain.
    • – K-12 union contracts that limit flexibility of professional learning spending.
    • – Availability of trainings, especially in rural and resource-constrained geographies, and for specialized training.
    • – Competition for “clients” between school district-run prekindergarten and center-based prekindergarten, which can get in the way of shared professional learning.

Role of organizational leadership in professional learning

  • In general, interviewees emphasized the importance of leadership in incentivizing staff to seek professional learning supports. Interviewees also emphasized leadership’s role in encouraging and allowing staff to seek supports that are tailored to individual needs.

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for a Home Visitor

The degree of sophistication and amount of home visitors’ professional learning varies widely depending on the employing organization and the home visitor’s career track (e.g., social worker, nurse, high school graduate). The skills needed to be a home visitor are very diverse, ranging from developing relationships with parents to connecting families with other social services. Coaching and mentoring are seen as effective ways to improve practice, particularly independent problem-solving for clients. Paying for professional learning is very difficult for home visitors in agencies that are budget constrained.

What do professional learning supports look like for this role?

  • Home visiting is a service delivery method, and the majority of training occurs in existing professional pathways (e.g., as a licensed clinical social worker or nurse) instead of being designed specifically for home visiting. In addition, home visitors possess a wide range of qualifications, from a high school diploma to master’s degrees, and the amount and type of formal coursework received by home visitors depends on their level of education.
  • The degree of availability and sophistication of ongoing professional learning depends on the employing organization. It can range from a well-functioning professional learning support system for its employees, to only basic training. While mentoring and coaching seems to be an acknowledged best practice, the degree to which they are offered varies depending on the employer.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • The skills needed to be a home visitor are very diverse, ranging from developing relationships with parents to connecting families with other social services.
  • Coaching can be very helpful in order to train employees to problem solve independently. The lack of independent problem solving can increase attrition rates.

What motivations or incentives to access professional learning supports exist for this role?

  • Home visitors are incentivized by their organizations’ requirements for competence, and motivated by wanting to learn. For example, for home visitors who are held accountable for seeing a minimum number of families, there is motivation to improve her practice, or risk losing clients.

Are they aware of the professional learning supports available to them?

  • Although there are listservs for trainings, one home visitor said that staying aware of training opportunities is very haphazard.

How are professional learning supports funded for this role?

  • Paying for ongoing professional learning is increasingly difficult, according to one interviewee. However, some specialized trainings (e.g., how to serve populations with special needs, mental health issues) are available and paid for through programs.

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for a Licensed Family Childcare Educator

Family childcare educators face a fairly challenging professional learning environment, both in terms of the professional learning supports made available to them and their ability to access those supports. While the training and experience with formal coursework varies by individual, family childcare educators are generally required to have less formal coursework than other practitioners in the early care and education field. They are also not required to have any prior training or experience to open their own childcare business beyond the standards they need to meet to be licensed.

Among the menu of professional learning supports, family childcare educators are most consistently accessing licensure and credentialing, and to some extent, participating in state quality assurance programs or going through an accreditation process. The most common ongoing professional supports are in the form of trainings and workshops that are often made available through childcare resource and referral networks or state agen

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

cies. Several gaps exist in their professional learning and have been identified as important to improving quality of practice: mentoring, coaching, and opportunities for reflective practice and peer learning. Generally, family childcare educators are not receiving any type of supervision and evaluation beyond participating in assessments through a state quality assurance program or accreditation process.

What do professional learning supports look like for this role?

  • Because family childcare educators are a heterogeneous group from varied professional backgrounds, experience with formal coursework varies tremendously both by state, depending on the licensing requirements, and individually, depending on an individual’s previous career path or desire to pursue formal coursework once in the role. In general, when compared to other professional roles in the early childhood care and education field, family childcare educators have less experience with formal coursework as a result of the licensing requirements that in many cases have no formal coursework or degree requirements. However, beyond licensing requirements, many family childcare educators pursue formal coursework either as standalone credits or toward a degree, certificate, or credential. One interviewee had just completed her master’s degree with 90 percent of her tuition funded from the state professional development system. However, she was quick to note that pursuing formal coursework while working as a family childcare educator with long days and the responsibilities of owning and operating your own business is not without challenges.
  • Credentialing/Licensure: Credentialing and licensure are the most consistently available professional learning supports for family childcare educators/owners/operators. Every state has specific credentialing and licensure requirements, and the rules on who must obtain a license based on the number of children they care for and the training they need to have differ from state to state. Similar to center-based childcare educators, credentialing is considered the “next step” beyond licensing, with a common credential being the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The credentialing and licensure processes require specific standards to be met within the home setting along with trainings and workshops (often referred to as “clock hours”) that in some states may be aligned with state quality assurance programs (e.g., QRIS).

    Beyond the training or “clock hour” requirements for licensing, there are safety and health guidelines that need to be met. In the state of Illinois, for example, the person who does the licensing of family childcare educators in their homes may be a potential pro-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • fessional learning resource for family childcare educators beyond ensuring the standards are met.

  • Professional Practice Quality Components Within Systems for Program Accreditation and Quality Assurance: Program accreditation and participation in quality assurance programs such as the state QRIS are generally available to family childcare educators/owners/operators. Beyond credentialing and licensure, accreditation and quality assurance programs are voluntary and each provide different mechanisms to improve a family childcare educator’s quality of practice and the quality of the care setting. Training connected to QRIS or other state quality assurance systems may not be reaching home-based childcare educators. One interviewee noted that there was confusion around program quality assurance and accreditation programs among family childcare educators (presumably related to the different criteria required to participate). While the interviewee described the process of entering the quality rating system as a “little daunting,” she described it as a “wonderful” experience that provided her a “framework on which to build.” Another interviewee noted that motivation to pursue accreditation for family childcare educators who largely rely on private funds (as opposed to public funds or clients paying with public subsidies) may have a lot to do with the parents creating a market demand for family childcare educators to be accredited. One interviewee noted that while quality rating systems are helping to put some language around quality standards, there is still inconsistency across states. To the extent that quality assurance programs or quality rating systems rely on assessments for quality improvement, there are limited opportunities for childcare educators to reflect and engage in quality improvement processes beyond the act of being assessed.
  • Ongoing Professional Support: Ongoing professional supports for family childcare educators largely exist in the form of trainings or workshops that are required to maintain their license or credential, or are required as part of an accreditation program or state quality assurance system. Major resources for trainings are local childcare resource and referral networks or state agencies (e.g., licensing or early learning agencies). Because family childcare educators are often owners of their own business, work long hours, and do not have someone to substitute for them, they face significant barriers in accessing trainings and workshops even when they are made available. Additionally, the content of trainings are often redundant and do not necessarily build on each other. For the most part, family childcare educators are the most isolated of their peers and thus do not have access to the “built in” professional supports
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • that come with working with other educators in a center-based setting. However, three interviewees mentioned that family childcare educators rely on ad hoc childcare educator networks in the form of informal family childcare associations or community-based networks where educators can go to get support, receive training hours, or reflect. Similar to their peers in center-based childcare settings, family childcare educators are generally missing the critical formal mentoring and coaching support that allows them to apply what they may have learned in formal coursework, trainings, or workshops to their own practice. Opportunities for reflective practice or reflective supervision are extremely limited for family childcare educators as they are often the only adults in their setting. Opportunities for mentoring and coaching are often informal and depend on the individual educator’s professional peer network.

  • Supervision/Evaluation: Supervision and evaluation were described as “nonexistent” for family childcare educators. There are no formal mechanisms for supervision and evaluation beyond the quality assessments that may occur if a family childcare educator participates in a quality assurance system or an accreditation program. One interviewee noted that because family childcare educators are usually small business owners, the reflection and supervision pieces are missing. As an alternative, some family childcare educators may seek the reflection component through informal networks, but they are unlikely to receive true supervision and evaluation that supports quality improvement.

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • Family childcare educators more often than not are playing the role of practitioner, owner, and operator of their own small business. As such, they require a very broad and often complex set of skills. While some family childcare educators may specialize in a particular age group, many often care for children of different ages at the same time and thus require knowledge of child development across the age spectrum.
  • Beyond needing to know the “basics” (health, safety, nutrition, and basic child development), family childcare educators often serve as connectors between families and other resources. Family childcare educators need to be able to engage families effectively, understand family dynamics, and understand the context of the community they work in. As owners of their own business, they also require general business management and administrative skills (e.g., budgeting, completing business documentation). Like many other professional roles in the early care and education field, and
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

perhaps even more so due to the individual and isolated nature of their work, family childcare educators can benefit from the ability to self-reflect and to maintain a “learning mindset” throughout their career.

How are professional learning supports funded for this role?

  • Generally speaking, family childcare educators are able to leverage some amount of public funds, or they use their own funds to pay for professional learning supports. In most states, a combination of federal and local funds go to a state agency in which a portion of the funds are dedicated to quality improvement and may be used to support professional learning for family childcare educators. Often, federal and state funds come through childcare resource and referral networks who provide trainings and other resources to childcare educators for free or at a low cost. The amount of public funds available specifically for family childcare educators varies state to state. Key sources of federal funding include the Childcare Development Block grant and Race to the Top, which recently expanded to include early learning settings. Some states (e.g., Illinois) have a professional development system that allows family childcare educators to pursue formal coursework by paying all or a portion of their tuition. There are also grants and scholarships available to apply toward credentials or accreditation, though this varies by state.

What are the challenges or barriers to accessing professional learning supports for this role?

  • Family childcare educators/owners/operators face significant barriers to accessing professional learning supports, mainly time and resource constraints and the isolated nature of their work. Family childcare educators work long hours usually by themselves, do not have access to substitutes who can care for children in their setting while they access professional learning, and are often paid very low wages. On top of that, family childcare educators are often owners of their own business, playing the dual function of administrator and practitioner, leaving little time and space for professional learning.

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for a Center-Based Childcare Educator

Availability of and access to professional learning supports for center-based childcare educators varies widely and depends on the individual

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

center’s funding streams, size, level of resources, and center leadership. Additionally, formal coursework and degree requirements vary largely by state. The major avenues that govern quality in center-based childcare settings and support professional learning for educators are credentialing/licensing and program accreditation (e.g., the NAEYC accreditation) and quality assurance systems (e.g., state QRIS). A critical gap in the professional learning supports available for center-based childcare educators is a focus on mentoring, coaching, and reflective supervision that helps educators to apply theory to practice, ultimately changing their behaviors. Another gap is support for educators for whom English is a second language.

What do professional learning supports look like for this role?

  • Formal Coursework: Requirements for formal coursework vary by state and can range from less than an associate’s degree, to a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, to a master’s degree (in one state). Many center-based childcare educators may pursue formal coursework toward a degree or a credential while working in childcare centers.
  • Credentialing/Licensure: Credentialing and licensure were said by one respondent to be the “most consistently available supports” for center-based childcare educators. The employer would need a license to operate the center. Beyond that, individual educators might need or want to pursue a credential such as the CDA, though requirements to have a credential vary by state and within states depending on the individual center. Credentials come with their own competencies and requirements for training that often serve as ongoing professional supports (e.g., trainings, workshops) while the educator is working. In many states, credentialing and licensing requirements are aligned with the state quality assurance systems (e.g., a state QRIS) to ensure consistency in content and competencies.
  • Professional Practice Quality Components Within Systems for Program Accreditation and Quality Assurance: Program quality assurance systems (e.g., a state QRIS) are one of the main avenues through which training and other ongoing professional learning supports are delivered to center-based childcare educators. As such, quality assurance systems like QRIS can be an important lever for improving the quality of practice for center-based childcare educators. However, it is important to note that training connected to QRIS or other state quality assurance systems may not be reaching all centers, especially smaller, lower-resourced centers.
  • Ongoing Professional Support: Trainings and workshops seem to be the most commonly available ongoing professional learning sup-
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • ports for center-based childcare educators and are often required to maintain center licensing, accreditation, or certain rankings within a program quality assurance system. Center-based childcare educators have more access to trainings and workshops compared to their home-based/family childcare educators who cannot rely on their employer to provide access to or funding for trainings that may require time away from their classroom. In addition to what is provided via center employers, childcare resource and referral networks are central access points for ongoing professional learning, though availability of quality resources seems to vary. While trainings and workshops may be common, one interviewee identified mentoring, coaching, and reflective supervision for center-based childcare educators as gaps to fill in order to help them translate theory into practice. Another interviewee confirmed the variance across centers, noting that mentoring support may be happening in some centers but not others.

  • Supervision and Evaluation: There are more opportunities for supervision and evaluation for center-based childcare educators compared to their counterparts in family or home-based settings.

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • Interviewees emphasized the importance of moving beyond the “basics of health, safety, and basic child development,” to having skills around developing relationships with children and the ability to “integrate knowledge on brain development into ongoing curricula that is responsive to children.” Similar to the knowledge and skills needed for family childcare educators, center-based educators need to know how to navigate parent and family relationships, how to effectively navigate group care, and understand the context of the community they are working in. While conducting training for childcare educators on screenings and autism, one interviewee noted that there was much more knowledge needed around child development and communicating effectively with parents.
  • Beyond content knowledge, center-based childcare educators also need content to be delivered in a way that allows them to learn skills to apply theory to their day-to-day practice.

How are professional learning supports funded for this role?

  • Similar to center-based prekindergarten educators, center-based childcare educators in centers that are participating in state quality assurance programs (e.g., QRIS) can often access low-cost or free trainings that are required as training hours. However, the quality of these trainings may be inconsistent. Professional learning bud-
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

gets for center-based childcare educators are determined by leadership and can vary center by center. One respondent who works in an administrative role in a school district mentioned that childcare centers generally do not have major resources to devote to professional learning, thus there is a need for them to be creative when trying to maintain the training hours required by quality assurance and accreditation programs.

What are the challenges or barriers to accessing professional learning supports for this role?

  • Center-based childcare educators face barriers to accessing professional learning supports such as lack of funding, lack of time, trainings not at a convenient location. One interviewee also mentioned a childcare educator’s low sense of self-worth when it comes to their profession. If similar perceptions of childcare educators exist in the field, this may result in underutilizing the skills and values that childcare educators can bring to a team of adults (e.g., parents, physicians) who are working to support a child’s development.

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for a Center-Based Prekindergarten Educator

The professional learning environment for center-based prekindergarten educators is largely dependent on the center’s funding streams and the center’s leadership, resulting in wide ranging requirements and opportunities for professional learning. Similar to center-based childcare educators, formal coursework requirements for center-based prekindergarten educators and credentialing/licensing requirements at the center level vary both by state and within states depending on the type of organization (e.g., Head Start center, state prekindergarten, private prekindergarten) or whether the center is accredited or participates in a state quality assurance system. Additionally, access to ongoing professional supports such as training, mentoring, or coaching vary tremendously from center to center.

What do professional learning supports look like for this role?

  • Formal Coursework: Similar to center-based childcare educators, requirements for formal coursework vary by state and can range from a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development) certification, to a small number of college credits, to a college degree. Requirements for formal coursework vary from state to state and within states vary depending on the type of prekindergarten program (e.g., Head Start center, state prekindergarten, private prekindergarten) and whether that program is accredited. There
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • are also a number of different roles in prekindergarten centers that are referred to as “teacher” (teacher aid, teacher assistant, lead teacher), so experience with formal coursework may also vary significantly within individual centers. Center-based prekindergarten educators may also be pursuing formal coursework in the community colleges or universities toward a degree, credential, or certification while working. However, one interviewee noted that formal coursework specific to center-based prekindergarten educators at community colleges are fairly limited.

  • Credentialing/Licensure: Similar to center-based childcare centers, a prekindergarten center needs to be licensed in the state it is operating in, which generally comes with some requirements for ongoing professional learning among prekindergarten educators. There is no consistent requirement for a credential or individual license across states for center-based prekindergarten educators. That said, minimum educational standards are increasing; for example, Head Start has a goal of having 50 percent of their educators possessing bachelor’s degrees.
  • Professional Practice Quality Components Within Systems for Program Accreditation and Quality Assurance: Beyond licensing requirements for prekindergarten centers, centers can voluntarily undergo an accreditation process (e.g., the NAEYC accreditation) or may participate in a state quality assurance system (e.g., the Pennsylvania Stars program). Both processes may hold both formal degree requirements and requirements for ongoing professional learning among center-based prekindergarten educators and may open up opportunities for supports like mentoring, evaluation, or peer-learning opportunities.

    Two interviewees noted that the accreditation process is a big step that requires time and resources that may deter some centers from starting the process. However, an additional motivation for prekindergarten centers and their educators to pursue accreditation or participate in a quality assurance program may be the market demand from parents and families who are discerning about a center’s quality and the access to professional learning for educators.

  • Ongoing Professional Support: Ongoing professional supports beyond “single-shot” trainings and workshops that may be required through licensing standards, quality assurance systems, or accreditation programs are generally limited and highly dependent on the type of organization and the discretion of the center’s leadership. For national programs like Head Start, workshops and trainings and professional learning resources are provided through the national office and thus have more consistency across centers in
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • terms of content when compared to ongoing professional supports provided to or accessed by other center-based prekindergarten educators. However, they may not necessarily provide the content sought by the educators. For example, one Head Start educator was disappointed with the content available through Head Start and state trainings and turned to her own self-directed learning largely through free courses offered by universities online or by reading up on relevant articles.

  • Mentorship, coaching, reflective supervision, and peer learning for center-based prekindergarten educators seem to be missing but needed. One Head Start educator noted that she has never had a coach in her classroom and that she was looking forward to a new “teacher-mentor” program about to be implemented in her center.

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • Center-based prekindergarten educators need a wide-ranging set of knowledge and skills that go beyond child development content, though child development content remains foundational to their practice. Critical skills and qualities for a center-based prekindergarten educator include having “appropriate dispositions, interpersonal and inter-professional competencies,” and the ability to communicate and advocate on behalf of early childhood development to a variety of audiences, including center directors, parents and families, or even a reporter. There is a need for educators to understand child development at a level that would enable them to serve as advocates for early childhood development within their organizations and their communities.
  • Additionally, a critical skill for center-based prekindergarten educators, and educators in all settings, is the ability to apply what was learned in formal coursework or in trainings to real-world classroom settings. This necessary skill highlights the importance of integrating field experiences throughout formal education or certification programs.

How are professional learning supports funded for this role?

  • Funding of professional learning supports for center-based prekindergarten educators depends on the type of organization they are working in. In general, funding may be more variable by center and more inconsistent over time when compared to their school-based counterparts whose funding largely comes through the school district. Center-based prekindergarten educators generally rely on funding provided by their center’s budget for professional learning or may end up paying for their own professional learning de-
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

pending on the center’s level of resources. State quality assurance programs often offer free or subsidized professional learning opportunities in addition to free online materials, though the quality of these supports vary.

What are the challenges or barriers to accessing professional learning supports for this role?

  • Lack of funding provided by the employer for professional learning supports is a major barrier to professional learning for center-based prekindergarten educators. Budgets for professional learning can be slim and may vary year to year which can make planning to meet certain requirements difficult for low-wage childcare educators who may have to pay their own way.
  • A Head Start educator described another barrier within her organization as unnecessary siloes between the different roles within her organization (i.e., assistant teacher, teacher, center manager, education specialist). These siloes prevented her from accessing information or learning skills beyond the scope of her individual role.
  • The Head Start educator also felt that avenues for professional learning beyond what was mandated and offered through Head Start were not made available to her, resulting in gaps in her professional learning.
  • A lack of support to navigate one’s career (from ongoing professional learning to higher education) hinders professional development.

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for an Elementary School Educator2

Elementary school educators are, in general, ill prepared in the area of child development through the available formal coursework and licensure requirements. Certification requirements vary from state to state, and even when requirements include early learning years (i.e., birth to age 5), the content focuses more on the older years. In addition, ongoing professional learning generally focuses on core subjects like math and reading, instead of broader child development topics.

_____________

2 The profile for this role encompasses school-based prekindergarten educators through grade 3.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

What do professional learning supports look like for this role?

  • Formal Coursework: Coursework on developmentally appropriate teaching is severely lacking.
  • Credentialing/Licensure: The ages for which educators become credentialed varies from state to state. Despite being a high leverage point, credentials generally do not lead to knowledge of child development.
  • Ongoing Professional Support: For elementary school educators, ongoing professional support is often determined by teachable subjects (such as math and reading), and not broader child development issues. One interviewee mentioned that the majority of her ongoing learning is self-directed, and comes from articles and online resources. Supervision from principals was noted as important by interviewees; supervision and evaluation in early elementary settings is a complex subject and has been well documented.

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • Early childhood practices, such as individualization of instruction and active learning, are important. But, educators are currently not prepared to gain these skills.
  • In addition, being able to know what other resources are available for children and families is important, as educators are often an important point of contact to those systems.

Are they aware of the professional learning supports available to them?

  • While educators are aware of basic certifications, they are less aware of alternative certifications.

What motivations or incentives to access professional learning supports exist for this role?

  • Incentives in K-12 settings are gaining adequate tests scores at the end of third grade. However, one interviewee notes that there are some unintended consequences of the focus on test scores.

What are the challenges or barriers to accessing professional learning supports for this role?

  • One interviewee noted that even in large teacher’s colleges, courses focused on child development are not widely available. In addition, school districts may be overly allocating funds to workshops, at the expense of mentoring and coaching.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for an Early Care and Education Center Director

Experiences with formal preparation prior to entering the role and access to professional learning supports once in the role vary widely for center directors and are not necessarily focused on meeting their specific needs as a director, e.g., effective supervision of staff and the ability to create a quality learning environment for their staff to improve their practice. Given the importance of their role as one who directs and determines what professional learning supports are available and accessed by their staff, improving the systems of professional learning supports for center directors may be a key leverage point for improving the overall quality of practice for practitioners working in early care and education centers.

What do professional learning supports look like for this role?

  • Credentialing/Licensure: Credentialing and licensure requirements for center directors vary by state. In some states it is left to the individual to pursue additional formal coursework or credentialing credits in states when a director’s credential is encouraged but not required. As a result, some center directors may have more formal preparation either through formal coursework or by completing a credential, while others transition into the director role from another early care and education role (e.g., a childcare or prekindergarten educator) without direct experience in or preparation for a director’s role.
  • Professional Practice Quality Components Within Systems for Program Accreditation and Quality Assurance: Program quality assurance systems (e.g., a state QRIS) were viewed by an interviewee as an essential component to ensure quality for the early care and education system as a whole, and also as an “extra support” for improving the quality of a center director’s own practice.
  • Ongoing Professional Support: Generally, access to ongoing professional supports for center directors seems ad hoc and depends on the state or locale within a state. While mentoring and coaching seem to be happening in some places, generally speaking there is a gap in this kind of support. Some states may host leadership institutes and directors may also form their own support groups to coach each other. Some directors, depending on the type of center they are in, may belong to a national organization such as the National Coalition of Campus Children Centers through which they might receive coaching and other ongoing professional supports.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • Center directors require a very broad skill set and are often required to wear many hats depending on the size and resources of their particular center. Most importantly, a large part of their job is the supervision of staff and being responsible for their staff’s own professional learning which one interviewee noted as an area where directors need a lot of support.

How are professional learning supports funded for this role?

  • Center directors are responsible for budgeting funds for professional learning among staff which also includes budgeting funds for themselves. While it varies from state to state, in some cases there may be funds available (federal or state) through program quality assurance systems (e.g., QRISs). Generally, there is a broad range of how center directors might allocate funds for their staff or pay for their own professional learning supports.

What are the challenges or barriers to accessing professional learning supports for this role?

  • Many center directors, especially those new to the role, may lack a formal system of professional learning supports that are focused on their specific needs as directors. For example, one interviewee stated that the National Association for the Education of Young Children does not “have a lot for directors.” Furthermore, a director’s role can be lonely and isolating, especially in rural locations that lack the systems to connect directors to professional learning resources. While technology may play an important role in improving access to professional learning supports for director’s who cannot get away from their center or who are in more isolated areas, the quality of those supports varies.

Profile of Professional Learning Supports for an Elementary School Principal

Elementary school principals have an opportunity to connect the prekindergarten and elementary school systems. A principal’s job is multifaceted, and requires instructional and operational leadership capabilities. The specific role of being a “hub” between early childhood systems is a particularly important one that principals can play, but requires that principals learn competencies that they currently do not have en masse, and that they receive support and are incentivized by district leadership to make connections with prekindergarten leaders.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

What skills, knowledge, or other supports are most needed in this role?

  • The National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP) identifies six competencies for effective principal practice:
    • – Embrace the prekindergarten to third grade early learning continuum.
    • – Ensure developmentally appropriate teaching.
    • – Provide personalized, blended learning environments.
    • – Use multiple measures to guide student growth.
    • – Build professional capacity across the learning community.
    • – Make schools the hub of prekindergarten to third grade learning for families and communities.
  • Of these competencies, the first and the last explicitly encourage principals to make connections with the “feeder system” for elementary schools. Elementary school principals are well positioned to be an important linkage between these systems. Principals need the skills to bridge the systems. Principals need to understand developmentally appropriate practice and connect with other organizational leaders in the prekindergarten space. For example, principals need competencies to interact with leadership of prekindergarten childcare agencies and also with other sectors, such as health. It is worth noting that NAESP does not currently recommend that principals connect with the birth to age 3 system, largely because principals have difficulty conceiving what coordinated activities would look like, given the distance between the two age groups.
  • Principals do not receive enough early childhood training. While elementary school principals receive generalized training, what they need is specialized training for leading elementary schools. However, principals’ priorities, as dictated by district leadership and incentives, often do not encourage learning developmentally appropriate practice. Therefore, district leadership has a role to play in providing the space for such training.

What motivations or incentives to access professional learning supports exist for this role?

  • District leadership needs to incentivize and provide the space for principals to bring together the elementary and prekindergarten systems.

Reenvisioning Professional Learning Supports: What Could Be?

Following a discussion of the current state of professional learning supports for various roles within the birth through 8 workforce, interviewees were asked a series of questions about what could make for ideal profes-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×

sional learning supports in terms of availability, accessibility and the financing of those supports, or in other words, “What could be?” Interviewees were also asked to reenvision the professional learning support system either for specific professional roles or for the birth through age 8 workforce as a whole, with specific attention paid to key leverage points that could be used to create a more ideal professional learning support system.

The following are themes on “what could be” for professional learning supports among the birth through age 8 workforce.

What are the opportunities for intersection of professional learning across the birth through age 8 workforce?

  • Across the board, interviewees recognized the importance of shared, interdisciplinary professional learning experiences across the birth through age 8 workforce. Joint professional learning among a variety of roles were mentioned by several interviewees as important opportunities to improve quality practice for front-line roles up to leadership. For example, joint professional learning might take place between
    • – Family childcare educators and center-based childcare educators.
    • – Public prekindergarten educators and Head Start educators.
    • – Prekindergarten educators and K-3 educators.
    • – Family childcare educators and K-3 educators.
    • – Early care and education center directors and elementary school principals.
    • – Center directors and mental health professionals.
  • These opportunities for shared learning could come in a variety of formats and serve different purposes. The opportunities would ideally recognize and accommodate the issues of hierarchy among different professional roles by recognizing that all practitioners have something to teach and learn from one another. For example, practitioners who work with the same age group of children (e.g., public prekindergarten educators and Head Start educators) might attend a shared training on brain development or join a peer learning collaborative where they share resources and do group problem solving. This type of joint learning and collaboration could be thought of as “horizontal integration.”
  • Opportunities for practitioners who work at different points along the birth through age 8 continuum (e.g., prekindergarten educators and kindergarten educators) to learn together can be termed “vertical integration.” Vertical integration could occur through joint transition planning for students, or observation of colleagues. For example, one interviewee spoke of the importance of “pushing up” early childhood professional development to the early grades.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
×
  • One interviewee noted that the vertical integration is much harder than horizontal integration of professional learning.
  • Cross-disciplinary learning among leadership roles and among staff was also mentioned as an important opportunity.
  • It is important to note that leadership (e.g., center directors, elementary school principals) is critical to enabling shared learning opportunities among their employees. Leaders may have to get creative with funding mechanisms or with their traditional professional learning offerings.
  • One interviewee described district plans to repurpose some Title 1 funds (meant to establish transition plans for students coming into kindergarten) into joint trainings with district educators and Head Start agencies, including Head Start parent councils and staff. This intersection of professional learning provides benefits for both parties. Districts might also provide coursework or other professional learning for their elementary school educators that support their licensure or credentialing in early care and education as a way to achieve some of the benefits of cross-disciplinary learning.

How might the availability, accessibility, and financing of professional learning supports be improved to better meet the needs of the birth through 8 workforce?

Interviewees often spoke of availability, access, and financing as different sides of the same coin, all being key leverage points that need to be addressed in concert to produce the desired results.

  • Improving the Availability of Professional Learning Supports: While the availability of specific professional learning supports (e.g., coursework or trainings or mentoring) varies tremendously, there are some common themes in terms of the content and skills covered that would ideally be available to the birth through age 8 workforce.
    • – One key improvement would be to make the available professional learning supports as flexible and as responsive as possible to the needs of the practitioner. Professional learning needs not only vary by locale (e.g., from neighborhood to neighborhood), but they vary significantly within the birth through age 8 workforce depending on the background of the individual and the setting they work in. For example, an ideal professional learning support system “does not assume that [the world of] childcare educators is a homogenous world.”
    • – Interviewees also mentioned content, skills, or opportunities that would ideally be made more available:
    Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
    ×
        • A foundational knowledge of child development that spans ages birth through 8, regardless of the practitioner’s role.
        • National standards for licensing/credentialing/certifications to promote a consistent level of quality across states.
        • Training on how to work collaboratively and effectively in team settings.
        • Mental health consultation services and support for behavioral issues.
        • Opportunities that help people to make connections with others who serve children birth through age 8 and to navigate community resources through locally based collaboratives.
        • Ongoing learning supports like mentoring and coaching across the birth through age 8 workforce.
        • Career advising and counseling that walks care and education professionals through different career options.
      • – Another improvement would be a centralized clearinghouse of evidence-based practices, covering both content and process (e.g., how to do reflective supervision). The clearinghouse would also list professional learning opportunities available to all practitioners working across the birth through age 8 continuum (e.g., a childcare educator can go to one place and see a training that is being provided by a home visiting agency).
    • Improving the Accessibility of Professional Learning Supports: Even when professional learning supports are made available, there are often many barriers to accessing those supports. Accessibility is determined by a number of different factors: where, when, and how professional learning is delivered; cost; the incentives tied to accessing the support; and awareness. The more learning supports are designed to address the common barriers (time, cost, location) faced by practitioners, the more accessible professional learning becomes. Interviewees offered several ideas for improving the accessibility of professional learning supports for the birth through age 8 workforce.
      • – Deliver professional learning supports in a variety of formats and in different settings to address the needs of an extremely diverse workforce. Different formats might include in-person learning, online learning, or blended learning. One interviewee suggested that community colleges are particularly well suited to serve as a “hub for professional learning” both for formal coursework and other professional learning supports.
      • – A significant barrier for practitioners that work outside of the school district system is not having the infrastructure to support time away from their classrooms for professional learning. Fam-
    Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
    ×
      • ily and center-based childcare and prekindergarten educators have difficulty accessing professional learning supports when there are no substitutes made available to care for their children while they are out. The idea of “substitute pools” was suggested by a few interviewees as a promising way to improve access to professional learning for this group of practitioners.

      • – Adjust the adult working environment to allow space for more ongoing practice supports like mentoring, coaching, and reflective practice to take place in a meaningful way.
    • Improving the Financing of Professional Learning Supports: Many interviewees identified funding as a key lever for improving access to professional learning supports. In an ideal world, professional learning would be funded by the organizations/programs/agencies practitioners work in. While funding for professional learning supports seems to be slightly better for practitioners working in early elementary settings compared to those in early care and education settings, both face funding challenges. Many practitioners, especially family childcare educators and smaller, center-based childcare and prekindergarten educators, are paying out of pocket for professional learning supports beyond any state-subsidized learning opportunities. Government and private funders have an important opportunity to support professional learning by providing much needed funding for supports identified as critical to improving practice among birth through age 8 practitioners.
      • – Grants, scholarships, and tuition and loan forgiveness programs are key to making formal coursework in a higher education setting more accessible to larger portions of the birth through age 8 workforce. Ideally, employers or outside funders would also make funding available to practitioners to pursue additional coursework beyond their existing degree or coursework as a way to continue learning and stay updated on new developments in the field.
      • – Beyond the funding needed to support a practitioner’s pursuit of higher education, one interviewee called for more funding to be allocated to “on-site practice supports” like mentoring and coaching on the implementation of specific practices. While a lot of funding goes toward trainings and workshops, not enough resources are devoted to learning how to apply what was learned in those trainings to a real world context. Tying monetary incentives or other types of awards or recognition to professional learning opportunities like the National Board Certification process for elementary educators might also improve the uptake of existing supports.
    Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
    ×
    • – In order to address the quality of practice in a comprehensive way, funding must be allocated to policies and practices that produce supportive learning environments and compensation that provides for the economic well-being of practitioners. Transforming the adult learning environment and adult well-being in the care and education workforce is critical to seeing the kinds of improvements professional learning supports are meant to produce.

    How else might it look to reenvision professional learning for the birth through age 8 workforce?

    • There is an opportunity to think beyond improving the learning for the paid birth through age 8 workforce so that everyone gets critical information about child development regardless of their profession. Interviewees want to get information into the hands of the families and communities who are raising children and to build their knowledge and skills around the science of child development. One Head Start educator described engaging in learning alongside the family as akin to “treating the source of the problem, not just the symptoms.” Another interviewee discussed ways to incentivize learning opportunities for family, friend, and neighbor caregivers and family childcare educators who tend to have less access to professional learning supports such as conducting community learning events while providing food, free toys, and free childcare during the event.
    • Create a system that incentivizes the professional learning processes that are known to make a difference in the quality of practice. One interviewee noted that while our evidence for whether certifications or having a bachelor’s degree result in stronger child gains and stronger practice is mixed, the strongest body of evidence is around the ongoing professional learning “processes” such as mentoring and coaching. As such, systems should be designed to incentivize or give “credit” to the processes that achieve stronger practice.
    Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Information-Gathering from the Field." 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. doi: 10.17226/19401.
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    Next: Appendix D: Historical Timeline: Preparation for the Care and Education Workforce in the United States »
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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.

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