Our nation’s economic recovery depends on strengthening an essential workforce tragically overlooked and under-appreciated for decades: the early learning and childcare educators who enable parents to work and raise healthy, successful children. Read our op-ed in The Hill here.


Our goal is to accelerate progress in the early childhood education profession and ensure early educators have the supports they need to be well-prepared and appropriately compensated. Our approach continues to be guided by the need to actualize the recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s report Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s report Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education. We further our vision through grants and our other initiatives, detailed below.

Racial Equity RESEARCH

In 2021, The Collaborative engaged Child Trends to conduct a literature review and develop a report to map the history of systemic racism in the U.S. and how it has influenced early childhood education (ECE) policy and practice, with a particular focus on educator pay and benefits, preparation, and workforce stability. The report, Mary Pauper: A Historical Exploration of Early Care and Education Compensation, Policy, and Solutions, articulates a landscape analysis and a set of recommendations for policy, practice, and future research to improve the professional status of early childhood educators. Learn more about this report.

Conducting a Feasibility Study on National Certification

In 2019, The Collaborative commissioned a nationwide feasibility study to assess the viability of a national, competency-based certification for lead teachers working with children from birth to 8 years old in the United States. Many in the ECE field have long considered the creation of a nationally transferable advanced certification that would recognize the knowledge and skills of lead teachers as well as equip them with accessible training and education. The Collaborative set out to assess stakeholder interest in developing such a certification by enlisting the Council for Professional Recognition (The Council) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to research the feasibility of (i.e., demand and support for) a national lead teacher certification (NLTC). Together, The Council and NBPTS produced “Elevating the ECE Educator Workforce: A Feasibility Study on the Viability of a National ECE Lead Teacher Certification.” Learn more about the study results and implications.


In early 2019, The Collaborative engaged a team of researchers to provide an analysis of existing opportunities and challenges facing educator preparation programs and state competency and compensation policies across the country. The research team—from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, the National Institute for Early Education Research, and Bellwether Education Partners—completed a landscape review of trends, gaps, and potential opportunities across all 50 states. In late 2019, the team built on its initial findings with in-depth research on ten key states. The result is a series of studies that provide a wealth of information to not only inform grantmaking strategies, but to shape research, practice and advocacy efforts for everyone in the field. Our hope is that these reports shine a light on the realities of the system and lead to action. Learn more about these studies.

Supporting Convening Opportunities

Convening leaders in the field helps us share stories of success, learn from one another and grow together. On September 24, 2019, the Collaborative supported a conference hosted by the Alliance for Early Success entitled, Elevating State Policies for and With the Early Education Profession: Taking Stock, Moving Forward, in Milwaukee, WI. The conference brought together state leaders, early childhood educators and ECE organizations to discuss how to better support and advance the profession. In supporting meetings like this, the Collaborative seeks to encourage big systems thinking and uplift early educator voices around strategies and lessons learned. Attendees had the opportunity to discuss key improvements that need to be made and learn more about actionable policy solutions that can lead to more transformative change.


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