Realizing the great promises of high-quality early childhood education depends on a strong workforce. Thanks to advances in brain science, we understand more than ever before just how important children’s experiences during the early years are to their future success. Children’s learning and development depends on positive interactions and secure relationships with caregivers and educators who have not only the knowledge and skills needed to work with young children, but also the support and working conditions to provide quality care.
In April 2015, the National Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council (now the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine) released Transforming the Workforce for Children from Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, a seminal report for the early education field. It put forth a vision for shared knowledge and competencies for care and education professionals and laid out many principles for effective preparation, ongoing professional learning, and practice. It called for significant shifts to revamp how teachers, leaders, and other professionals working with children birth through age eight are prepared, credentialed, and supported.
Its recommendations, however, are complex and will take time to implement. Many different players are needed to make this vision a reality, including policymakers at the federal, state, and local level; institutions of higher education and other organizations that prepare educators and provide ongoing professional learning; and of course, the educators, program leaders, and other professionals directly working with young children. Each state, community, and program is starting at different place. Without guidance, taking on this work can feel overwhelming.
Today, New America’s Early & Elementary Education Policy team is releasing Transforming the Early Education Workforce: A Multimedia Guidebook, an interactive space that makes the key takeaways from the report more digestible and actionable. We hope this guidebook will be a useful resource for all interested in strengthening the early childhood education workforce and realizing the National Academies’ vision.
Here’s what you will find in the guidebook:
- An introduction
- Frequently asked questions adapted from chapters 1 and 2 of the report
- Summaries of report chapters 3-11, which include key takeaways, key quotes, videos, and discussion questions for policymakers, institutions of higher education, and the workforce
- An overview of the report’s recommendations, termed the “Blueprint for Action,” including key takeaways for implementation
Videos produced by New America as well as videos from outside organizations. The videos can be watched on their own, but they are also embedded throughout the guidebook to be viewed in the context of particular chapters
Tools such as interactive U.S. maps for comparing state policies, online mapping software for visualizing connections between stakeholders, and questionnaires for determining where to start
A glossary of key terms used throughout the guidebook
We have also included three doorways for three different but overlapping audiences that highlight the specific parts of the report most relevant to them and discussion questions for to guide their thinking:
Educators in higher education who prepare those educators
Policymakers interested in improving early learning settings for children, from birth through age 8
We intend for this to be a living project and welcome feedback. As you come across resources or tools that would be helpful for the field please let us know.