Uncovering the Inner Workings of States’ Early Childhood Policies
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It’s one thing to know what your state policies are.
It’s another to know what you want them to be.
And it is still another thing to know how to get them from where they are to where you want them to be.
When it comes to the early childhood education profession, each state’s unique and complex systems can make it difficult for advocates and educators to realize their workforce goals. The political landscape can present a number of formidable challenges to knowing and acting on what policy levers to pull, with whom, for whom, and in what order.
So, as part of an effort to prepare for the implementation of a comprehensive policy and financing strategy based on the Power to the Profession recommendations, NAEYC and New America, with support from Child Care Aware of America, are working with states to identify and analyze their key policies, governance bodies, and decision-making processes and positions related to the entire early childhood education workforce birth through age eight.
Our goal in this project is to promote a focus on states' policy and regulatory structures related to the early childhood workforce, in order to facilitate understanding and strategy regarding who holds power to make or prevent change, and where that power is held.
Read Uncovering the Inner Workings of States' Early Childhood Policies: Results from a New Tool for Changemakers Focused on Transforming the Workforce and access the comprehensive questionnaire to explore what you can do in your state!
To do this, we crafted a comprehensive questionnaire, something akin to an MRI machine, designed to delve deeply enough to uncover a state’s internal systems, structures, power configurations, and regulations addressing the entire birth through age 8 workforce. The answers that come from this questionnaire are designed to help spot where opportunities, gaps, and blockages exist and where infrastructure is strong and weak, while also helping to establish paths for moving forward.
To ensure this questionnaire tool uncovered the most useful information, we piloted it in early 2017 with three states: Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin. Advocates and state leaders, including NAEYC Affiliate leaders; child care resource and referral agency leaders; and others were involved in completing the questionnaire using a combination of written responses, phone, and in-person interviews. We also reviewed state agency websites for additional information.
We also developed this brief, "Uncovering the Inner Workings of States' Early Childhood Policies: Results from a New Tool for Changemakers Focused on Transforming the Workforce," using answers from those states to illustrate what types of new information can emerge from such a scan, particularly in the areas of governance, competencies, and preparation policies. These states share distinct similarities as well as important differences in their political climate, demographic composition, and history with early childhood and K–12 education. This brief teases out some of those similarities and differences, providing important information to the three participating states, while drawing lessons for the others about the kinds of questions to ask and answer when mapping out priorities and strategies for change. Plus: a state policy adoption mad lib!
The questionnaire itself, which will be continually updated based on feedback from state-based participants, is shared here and in the tools section of Transforming the Early Education Workforce: A Multimedia Guidebook launched in December 2017 by New America. We are deeply grateful to, among others, the Alliance for Early Success for their support of this project, to NAEYC's Affiliate leaders for their participation, and to Child Care Aware of America for facilitating the participation of their field in the questionnaire process!
We encourage any interested state to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for support in using the tool, and hope this will allow all early childhood advocates to access and use it as part of their efforts to advance workforce policies in their states.