Early Learning Career Pathways Initiative: Credentialing in the Early Care and Education Field

Credentialing in the Early Care and Education Field Report Released

Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning
U.S. Department of Education
Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Between 2012 and 2022 there is a projected 30 percent increase in job openings for early educators (USDOL, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). That means 184,100 job openings for qualified child care teachers and 76,400 for preschool teachers. But who will fill these critical roles?

Spearheaded by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the Early Learning Career Pathways Report examines comprehensive career pathway systems in the early childhood education (ECE) field. Career pathways, defined as comprehensive education and training systems, provide a sequence of coursework and credentials aligned with employer and industry needs. Pathways offer a much-needed solution to fostering the educational and workforce training needs of adult learners to meet national and regional workforce demands.

This report, Credentialing in the Early Care and Education Field, draws a national landscape of all of the 50 states’ requirements for ECE staff. The report documents many notable practices which comprise a strong set of recommendations for states and the field as they work to improve and design strong, comprehensive pathway systems intended to meet the skill, employment, and advancement needs of low-income, low-skilled adults who are in or entering the ECE field. In addition, the report offers 14 recommendations illuminated with state examples.

 Highlights of the Report Findings

  • All 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto Rico have early learning standards and guidelines in place for at least some part of the birth through age five continuum.
  • The Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) provides a common lens for comparing early learning programs within a state. Of the 50 states, including DC, and Puerto Rico, 98 percent have a QRIS in some stage of development.
  • The vast majority of states have implemented registries of child care providers
  • Nearly half of the states offer T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood programs, an initiative that provides assistance and support services to individuals in the ECE workforce who are completing coursework leading to credentials, degrees, and teacher licensure.
  • 94 percent of states have ECE workforce core knowledge and competencies in place.
  • 39 percent of the 50 states exceed the minimum requirements of a high school diploma or equivalent credential and a specific infant/toddler credential or certificate for staff working with infants and toddlers in publicly-funded programs.

A Snapshot of Five States

The report details the work of five states – California, Connecticut, New Mexico, North Carolina, and West Virginia – to show how their existing credentialing systems could be used to support career pathways efforts. This involved a close look at target populations and their points of entry; systems and services offered; the review or development of competency models; the development of career ladders; and whether or not programs lead to industry recognized and/or post-secondary credentials. These states offer a variety of examples of infrastructure at varying stages of development, and much can be learned from their work.

 The report includes appendices with extensive resources. The full report can be read http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/index.html

A second report, to be released in summer 2016, will focus on issues of access to jobs and advancement in the ECE field.