Power to the Profession and the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession
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We have long known that investing in early childhood education—and specifically in early childhood educators—is essential to support and improve outcomes for young children and their families. Yet for far too long, our nation’s policies have not kept up with the science of early learning, as illustrated in the seminal 2015 National Academy of Medicine report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8.
Now, grounded in this science and building on decades of advocacy and leadership, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and 14 other leading national organizations that represent members of the early childhood field have created a consensus framework that articulates the career pathways, competencies, qualifications, standards,
compensation, and infrastructure that will lead to a unified and diverse early childhood education profession serving children birth through age 8 across states and settings.
These organizations, as the national Power to the Profession Task Force, have engaged in an iterative, multiyear, profession-led process that placed front and center the voices and perspectives of early childhood educators. More than 11,000 individuals across the nation have participated in surveys, focus groups, information sessions, conference sessions, webinars, and more to share their stories and provide feedback on recommendations. The work has been particularly informed by intentional outreach to and engagement with educators from communities of color, educators who speak Spanish, and educators living in rural communities.
"Right now, there is so much variation in quality across states and settings. Having a unified definition of who we are as early childhood educators will allow us to create more cohesion across the country—leading to more equity for children no matter where they are."
- Maya Bass, Early Childhood Educator, Wisconsin
The result of this extensive and intensive effort is the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession, which sets out a vision that each and every child—beginning at birth—has the opportunity to benefit from high-quality early childhood education delivered by an effective, diverse, well-prepared, and well-compensated workforce. Specific recommendations, aligned with the newly revised Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators, address
- Educator roles, responsibilities, and scopes of practice across three distinct and meaningful designations within the early childhood education profession
- Skills, preparation, and compensation needed for the profession
- The shared accountability and resources for each sector that support the profession, including employers, preparation programs, and state and federal governments.
Implementation of the Unifying Framework will ultimately build a bridge from the present to the future; as such, each recommendation has been crafted through a lens of reducing the impact of structural barriers such as institutional racism, sexism, and classism to ensure that the profession honors the current workforce across all settings and reflects the diversity of the young children it serves.
Our nation’s children and families can’t wait. It is time for early childhood educators to be well prepared and compensated in accordance with the complex and demanding work they perform, as part of a system that recognizes the cost of quality and finances early childhood education as the public good that it is.
Join your fellow educators and allies in the next phase to advance the early childhood education profession. Visit PowerToTheProfession.org to access resources and to learn more.
Photographs: © Getty Images
Vol. 75, No. 1