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 latest op-ed here.

Our Work

Our goal is to accelerate progress in the ECE field to professionalize the workforce and ensure early educators have the supports they need to be well-prepared and 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. Our current work includes:

Racial Equity

A report from Child Trends commissioned by The Collaborative, Mary Pauper: A Historical Exploration of Early Care and Education Compensation, Policy, and Solutions, maps 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 articulates a set of recommendations for policy, practice, and future research to improve the professional status of early childhood educators. Learn more about this report.

Developing a North Star

We seek for our work to be guided by a “North Star”—a vision for success that helps us rally together around common goals, identify needs and work toward a long-term plan for the future. To help us get there, we are developing a 15-year vision statement that guides our work. Based on a common set of goals and systems changes that we believe are essential to transforming the profession for the long term, the North Star aims to achieve the following in 15 years:

  • Close the achievement and opportunity gap so that all young children reach their full potential.
  • All early childhood educators are well-prepared, appropriately compensated, and supported in their professional growth, regardless of settings in which they work across the birth-third grade continuum.
  • Have systems in place that ensure equity and diversity across the workforce, including a clear path for upward mobility across early childhood professional roles.

In order to kickstart this effort, this Fall we convened a series of online discussions with leaders in the field. This collaborative effort is ongoing with our partners—check back soon for updates.

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. 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.

Research Partnership

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—have so far completed a landscape review of trends, gaps, and potential opportunities across all 50 states. In late 2019 the team will build on its initial findings with in-depth research on ten key states. The Collaborative’s goal is to apply these findings and lessons learned from a variety of workforce landscapes in various states and counties to its dual strategies of improving ECE educator preparation and compensation. The Research Partners and the Collaborative look forward to sharing data and insights publicly in future reports.

Conducting a Feasibility Study on National Certification

To ensure that every infant, toddler and young child has access to high-quality early education programs led by qualified, well-trained and properly compensated educators, we seek to understand the value of a national certification program that can help the over 5 million people employed in the field be the best at their job. As the first step in understanding the potential for this kind of a system change, we invited the Council for Professional Recognition (CFPR) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to conduct a feasibility study, Elevating the ECE Educator Workforce: Feasibility Study on the Viability of a National ECE Lead Teacher Certification. This ground-breaking study will focus on assessing the potential of a national level certification amongst key stakeholders to strengthen and transform the ECE workforce. This work is kicking off in October 2019.


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