Toward the Identification of Features of Effective Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators, Literature Review


Programs and policymakers face numerous challenges as they develop and implement professional development strategies for the early childhood workforce. The field lacks consistent standards and requirements for professional preparation, and, as a result, low levels of education and a minimum of specialized training in early childhood education are the norm. In addition, current strategies of professional development do not adequately prepare all educators for the array of responsibilities, knowledge, and skills they are expected to demonstrate in their work with young children and their families.

This review incorporates findings from research on four targets of early childhood professional development: 1) strengthening human or social capital; 2) strengthening practices at institutions or organizations providing professional development; 3) strengthening early educator practices related to specific child outcomes; and, 4) strengthening overall quality in classroom or group settings. The literature review analyzed the research on professional development of early childhood educators to work toward identification of a set of core features that characterize effective professional development. A number of gaps were identified in the research on early childhood professional development that need to be addressed.

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Professional Development in Early Childhood Programs: Process Issues and Research Needs


In light of the current policy context, early childhood educators are being asked to have a complex understanding of child development and early education issues and provide rich, meaningful educational experiences for all children and families in their care. Accountability for outcomes is high, and resources for professional support are limited. As such, the early education field needs well-conducted empirical studies on which to base professional development practices. In this paper,the authors offer research directions associated with the processes underlying professional development, including areas in need of investigation that can inform the early childhood education field in terms of how professional development efforts exert their influence and produce meaningful change in practitioners’ skills, behaviors, and dispositions. The paper highlights representative research from the professional development literature on its various forms/approaches and offers an agenda for research on the professional development process. Broad issues associated with the conduct of research on professional development, including considerations of professional development processes, participant characteristics, relationships, and sustainability are discussed.

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Examining the Associations Between Infant/Toddler Workforce Preparation, Program Quality and Child Outcomes: A Review of the Research Evidence


Examining the Associations Between Infant/Toddler Workforce Preparation, Program Quality and Child Outcomes: A Review of the Research Evidence summarizes the findings of an evidence review conducted to address the following question:
What evidence do we have from the research literature about associations between infant/toddler teacher and caregiver preparation (e.g. education, credentials, etc.) and improvements in quality and child outcomes.

The research team worked to synthesized research about which core competencies and credentials have the strongest associations with program quality outcomes. Their findings report what research currently says about:

  • teachers’ degrees in relation to program quality and child outcomes;
  • teachers’ major/concentration in ECE or child development in relation to observed quality and child outcomes;
  • state credentials on observed quality and child outcomes; and
  • teacher training on observed quality and child outcomes.

The study describes the implications of this research for policy, practice and for further research.

Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study


Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study offers a snapshot of today's early childhood teachers in the United States. The report takes a look through four lenses:

  • Then and Now: Trends in Wages, Education, and Turnover Among Early Childhood Teachers, 1989-2014A comparison of available evidence reveals the extent of change in center-based teachers’ wages, education, and rates of turnover over the past quarter century.
  • Economic Insecurity Among Early Childhood Teachers. New evidence reveals the serious consequences of inadequate compensation on this predominantly female, ethnically diverse workforce.
  • The Public Costs of Inadequate Compensation. An examination of how widely early childhood workers and their families use public benefits offers a first look at some of the hidden costs of the low wages endemic to this workforce.
  • Policy Efforts to Improve Early Childhood Teaching Jobs. An appraisal of state and national efforts to improve the quality of early care and education in the United States focuses on how adequately these have addressed the low wages of the teaching workforce.

The report also offers thoughts on paths forward and reinvigorating the national conversation on the status and working conditions of teaching staff.


"In the 25 years since the release of the National Child Care Staffing Study, combined developments in science, practice, and policy have dramatically shifted the context for discussions about the status of early childhood teaching jobs, and the importance of attracting and retaining a well-prepared workforce that is capable of nurturing young children’s learning, health and development. Three narrative elements of this changed early care and education landscape set the stage for the new evidence presented in this report:

  • A developmental story. Since 1989, we have gained exponentially greater knowledge of the powerful role of children’s earliest encounters with caregiving adults in setting a sturdy or fragile foundation for lifelong development.
  • An economic story. There is now a far more widespread appreciation for the wise investment that high-quality early care and education (ECE) constitutes for children, families, and society at large.
  • A policy story. For the first time since 1971, when national child care legislation made it all the way to a presidential veto, there is serious debate at the federal level, echoed in virtually every state, about the vital importance of improving the quality of early education, with vast implications for what we expect of the early childhood teaching workforce."

Core Competencies for the Prenatal Through Age Three Workforce


In the United States, cross-sector core competencies for the prenatal through 3-year-old field are currently being broadened to encompass competencies needed for working with children 3-5 years old. The charge of this report was to: 

  1. Identify core competencies needed by the P-3 workforce in Los Angeles County;
  2. Develop training approaches to support development of these competencies; and
  3. Create and field test strategies in selected Los Angeles communities for integrating the core competencies in professional development systems and developing strategies to sustain their use.

This report captures core competencies agreed upon by the workgroup tasked with this report, as well as recommendations regarding the prenatal through three-year-old workforce.

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Changing Systems & Practice to Improve Outcomes for Young Fathers, Their Children & Their Families


Changing Systems & Practice to Improve Outcomes for Young Fathers, Their Children & Their Families recognizes that, though there is an increasing interest in supporting fathers, little attention has been paid to the importance of engaging fathers under the age of 26 – particularly young fathers who are involved in child welfare systems.

This brief makes recommendations for child welfare system policy and practice, recognizing the important role that fathers play in improving their child's outcomes. The document highlights policies and programs seeking to identify, engage and support young fathers. It also includes links to practice guides and resources aimed at supporting the implementation of these recommendations. The policy recommendations in this brief address these challenges:

  • The lack of attention to the dual roles and needs of young fathers who are simultaneously navigating a transition to adulthood while learning to parent;
  • The invisibility of young fathers in child welfare systems and the dearth of opportunities for them to support the well-being of their children and families;
  • The lack of data on the characteristics and needs of young fathers; and
  • The lack of cross-system collaboration among the education, juvenile/criminal justice, early childhood education (ECE), child support enforcement, health care, homeless services, housing and mental health systems to support young fathers and their families.

Throughout the brief, voices of young fathers are shared.

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Stepping up for Early Childhood Education - Transforming the Early Ed Workforce; Transitions to Kindergarten; Fully Funding State Pre-K; Illinois’s Young Dual Language Learners


This online magazine, from the Journal of the National Association of State Boards, shares the following articles: 

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Tracing the Arc of Early Childhood Policy

A 30-year-old NASBE task force on early education still holds water, even as the context and concerns of the field have shifted. Lori Connors-

Tadros and Madelyn Gardner


Transforming the Early Care and Education Workforce

It’s time to improve care for the youngest learners by improving preparation and support for those who teach them. Sara Vecchiotti


States Pave the Way for Smoother Transitions to Kindergarten

Four states back statewide initiatives to make sure children are ready for kindergarten. Aaron Loewenberg


Fully Funding Pre-K through K-12 Funding Formulas

While just 11 states have tried it, inclusion of state-funded pre-K in the school funding formula may well be the best option for extending access to

more children. W. Steven Barnett and Richard Kasmin


Serving Young Dual Language Learners in Illinois

Illinois puts the accent on interagency collaboration to achieve linguistically and culturally appropriate instruction. Luisiana Meléndez and Patricia Chamberlain


Leveraging Early Childhood Data for Better Decision Making

Most states now have the tools they need to make good decisions for early learners. Now they need to learn how to use them. Philip Sirinides and Missy Coffey

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Core Knowledge and Competences - For Early Childhood Professionals


The Northern Lights Career Development Center is part of the Community College of Vermont. The Center is the hub of Vermont’s unified system of professional development for early childhood and afterschool professionals.
A primary goal of the professional development system is to maintain and enhance a comprehensive, quality, statewide professional development system that:

  • Provides evidence-informed professional development opportunities for the workforce led by skilled instructors, mentors, or coaches;
  • Aligns with program and professional standards, requirements, and regulations; and
  • Recognizes accomplishments of professionals in the field.

The professional development system aims to be consistent, accessible, and responsive to the needs of early childhood and afterschool professionals from entry to advanced levels. Core knowledge and competencies provide the foundation of Vermont’s professional development system. They strengthen the system by creating common language and expectations for the professionals working with young children.

This book includes the knowledge and competencies and describes their development and uses.

2017 Home Visiting Yearbook


2017 Home Visiting Yearbook is one of the first publications from the National Home Visiting Resource Center. It was developed with the recognition that, as many communities have implemented home visiting models aimed at improving outcomes for children and families, there has not been a comprehensive overview of how home visiting is across the country. This resource aims to inform readers as they make decisions in policy and practice. The following critical questions are addressed: 

Where do home visiting programs operate? 
How many families and children are being served by home visiting, and how many more could benefit? 
Who develops and administers home visiting? 
Who funds home visiting?

This first edition presents the most complete data available on home visiting in the United States.

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6 Policies to Support the Early Childhood Workforce


6 Policies to Support the Early Childhood Workforce shares six policies that the federal government should include as part of significant federal financing reform for early care and education. The following policies will be implemented in partnership with communities: 

  • Develop and maintain a comprehensive professional development system with stable funding and measures for quality assurance. 
  • Develop or revise statewide career pathways that provide a road map for early childhood professionals to advance in their careers through increasing levels of education, experience, demonstrated competencies, and compensation. 
  • Make progress toward compensation and benefit standards at parity with kindergarten teachers. 
  • Promote data-driven policies and programs for the workforce with a statewide workforce registry.
  • Bolster scholarship programs for early educators.
  • Reward degree completion with wage supplements or tax credits.

These coordinated, integrated policies aim to promote a diverse early childhood workforce that is skilled, supported, and adequately compensated.

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