1) to ensure a pool of highly qualified early childhood professionals whose compensation is commensurate with the education, experience, and responsibilities of their positions and who receive salaries comparable to educators in other systems; and 2) to promote recognition of the significant role of well trained early childhood professionals in the provision of high quality programs for young children.
Young children (aged birth to age 8) and their families are served by a comprehensive, high quality early care and education system, guided by competent, qualified professionals who support children’s growth and learning, who are supported in their professional development and equitably compensated.
The primary focus of the professional development system is the growth and development of the practitioners who work in early childhood care and education settings. Support for the development of the early childhood workforce will result in the provision of high quality programs and that meet the needs of a diverse population of children and families including children with special needs. The welfare of the children is the primary concern of the system.
The following principles guide the development and implementation of an effective system for professional development:
- Is comprehensive, statewide, research-based and up-to-date
- Involves individuals who are actively pursuing a career in working with or on behalf of young children and their families.
- Is child-focused and family centered and involves communities.
- Is respectful, responsive to and supportive of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
- Is based on partnership of individuals and agencies involved in early childhood personnel preparation and provision of services to children and families.
- Offers incentives for people to enter and remain in the field.
- Provides accessible career pathways.
- Insures the availability training opportunities that are supportive, accessible and individually appropriate.
- Recognizes and respects a variety of educational philosophies and a range of delivery systems for early care and education.
- Seeks sources of funding for professional development and engages in policy making on behalf of children, families, and early childhood professionals
- Monitors the effectiveness of professional development efforts and progress in the advancement of the professional workforce
Four Core Principles Applied Across Six Essential Policy Areas
The four core principles and six policy areas are designed to help states ask the questions and craft the system that supports the success of educators and the children they serve. They are aimed at the development and retention of an early childhood workforce that exemplifies excellence and is comprised of a skilled cadre of effective, diverse, and fairly compensated professionals.
Each time a policy is considered, created, or revised, everyone involved should begin by asking and answering these four foundational questions that are posed to address the four core principles:
- Professional Development System Integration—How does this policy increase professional development system integration across early childhood education sectors and settings from birth through 8?
- Quality Assurances—How does it include quality assurances for professional development?
- Diversity and Equitable Access—How does it support workforce diversity and equitable access to professional development?
- Compensation Parity—How does it increase compensation parity across early childhood education sectors and settings from birth through age 8?
Six Essential Policy Areas
In addition, there are six essential policy areas where the four principles can be successfully applied and they are:
- Professional Standards—State policy ensures that state early childhood standards, competencies, teacher licensure, and other state-based credentials meet the national standards of the profession and are aligned across child care, Head Start, preschool, early intervention, pre-K, and pre-K to third grade sectors. Additional standards for relevant specializations are also adopted, as needed.
- Career Pathways—Policies guiding PD requirements and credentials across early education delivery sectors support the development of a single, cross-sector career pathways model.
- Articulation—State articulation policies use national initial and advanced standards of the profession as a unifying framework for the development of professional credentials that are both portable (recognized across sectors and settings of the early childhood education profession and also across state lines) and stackable (build increasing levels of mastery and opportunity from secondary through graduate degree levels).
- Advisory Structures—Policies ensure the advisory structure includes representatives from all early childhood education sectors. The structure expands on the existing work in each sector. Multiple perspectives, leaders, and initiatives are acknowledged and integrated as appropriate.
- Data—Policies ensure that cross-sector early childhood workforce data from birth through age 8 is collected, shared, and disseminated to stakeholders, funders, and the public.
- Financing—Federal, state, and private sources are coordinated to align and fund professional development system needs across child care, Head Start, preschool, early intervention, and pre-K through third grade.