(D)(2) Supporting Early Childhood Educators in improving their knowledge, skills, and abilities

The extent to which the State has a High-Quality Plan to improve the effectiveness and retention of Early Childhood Educators with the goal of improving child outcomes through--

  1. Professional development opportunities that are aligned with its Workforce Knowledge and Competencies;
  2. Policies and incentives, (e.g., scholarships, compensation and wage supplements, tiered reimbursement rates, other financial incentives, management opportunities), that promote professional development and career advancement along an articulated career pathway; and
  3. Setting ambitious yet achievable targets for:
    1. Increasing Early Childhood Educator retention rates; and
    2. Increasing the number and percentage of Early Childhood Educators moving up through the progression of credentials.

Comments

There is a wonderful opportunity to connect the administration’s early childhood agenda with the administration’s youth employment agenda by training disadvantaged youth to become early childhood educators.

  •  (D)(2)(a) Add to end of sentence “and which are designed to be accessible to disadvantaged older youth who are out of school and unemployed.”
  • (D)(2)(b) After “career pathway” add “which is designed to be accessible to disadvantaged older youth.”
  • Add (D)(2)(c)(iii) Increasing the number of older disadvantaged youth who are gainfully employed as Early Childhood Educators.”

The State plan to provide professional development opportunities that are aligned with the Workforce Knowledge and Competencies should include high-quality professional development on the Family Leadership and Support Standards. Examples exist across many States that have developed training modules on the Strengthening Families Protective Factors, incorporated the concepts within existing curricula, and even created professional specializations for those who complete required courses and field experiences based on the Strengthening Families approach and Protective Factors framework.

Signed,
Frank Farrow, Director, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Judy Langford, Senior Fellow and Director, Strengthening Families Initiative, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Teresa Rafael, Executive Director, National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is appreciative of the hard work reflected in the development of the criteria for this competitive grant process. In the definition of Workforce Knowledge and Competencies there is no specific mention of teacher competencies related to their training on teaching high-need children resulting from chronic poverty. CDF recommends that the definition be amended to include language related to those working with children with disabilities, English Language Learners, life circumstances proven to be related to chronic poverty such as victims of domestic violence, fetal alcohol syndrome, constant family mobility, grandparent head of household and very young mothers heading the household.

Cathy Grace
Children’s Defense Fund
Director, Early Childhood Development

On behalf of the Office of the Governor of the State of Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Human Services: We agree that professional development opportunities must be aligned with the State's Workforce Knowledge and Competencies. In addition, we recommend that professional development opportunities be:
• research based initiatives with appropriately designed staff training; and
• include ongoing job-embedded professional development aligned to standards and curriculum for teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and other staff.

We also recommend that this criteria include a focus on:
• induction and mentoring support and opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals to learn effective practices; and
• joint professional development opportunities between the early childhood workforce and teachers and staff in the K - 12 system (particularly those in K-3).

Thank you for the opportunity to respond. This comment addresses the need for specifically including early childhood program administrators within the scope of Early Childhood Educator. The criteria for a successful grant proposal should include incentives for early childhood administrators to enhance their professional qualifications, attain a degree, or a state-issued administrator credential. To ensure school readiness and help prepare young children to be successful in work and civic life, we need a comprehensive and integrated system of early learning and development. As community-based programs increasingly receive early education funding, the need for well-qualified early childhood program administrators has greatly increased. To create early childhood programs with work environments that develop, support, and retain skilled teachers, administrators (working in child care, Head Start, and public schools) capable of strong leadership are essential. The scope of responsibilites for child care and Head Start directors is similar to elementary school principals. Directors and principals oversee curriculum implementation, child assessment, program evaluation, supervision and support of teachers, parent engagement, human resource allocation, and fiscal matters relating to their programs. Yet director qualifications contrast sharply with the qualifications of principals. Most states require that school principals hold a master's degree and an administrative certificate while only four states (CA, CO, FL, TX) require even one college course related to administration for center directors. Only four states (DE, IN, NJ, PA) require a director to have a degree at any level. Research has shown that leadership matters in all sectors and settings in which young children have the opportunity to learn and develop.
Teri Talan, Director of Research and Public Policy, McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership

These are right on target. We cannot continue to have a revolving door workforce if we are intent upon improving the outcomes and the quality of programs for our poorest children. The policies and incentives listed are key elements of any comprehensive professional development system and critical to the retention of qualified staff.

Darlene C. Ragozzine

Yes, yes, yes AND this must be aligned PreK-3, with specfic attention to the B-3 years and the kinds of knowledge, skills and competencies we need among child care and early education professionals at this extraordinarily important period of early brain development (See the Harvard Center on the Developing Child....)

Dr. J.M. Gruendel, CT

I agree with all of your points and specifically agree with the need for attention to B-3. Often, this age group is not included sufficiently in early childhood studies and yet, it is the most important period for developing a foundation for all that follows as well as the importance of the period for brain development.

a close examination of many federally funded head start programs will attest to the reality that retaining mediocre educators is all too common. the traditional strategies to develop the workforce through formal education and 'in-house' inservice traditions has ingrained a certain degree of inertia to many state and federally funded programs.