The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a new National Early Care and Education Workforce Center (ECE Workforce Center). With a $30 million investment over five years, the ECE Workforce Center will coordinate and provide technical assistance and rigorous research to advance the recruitment and retainment of a diverse, qualified, and effective workforce.
The ECE workforce plays an integral role in the health and development of children while providing an essential service to working families and the economy. Yet, educators’ knowledge, skills, and well-being are undermined by our current systems and longstanding racial and gender inequities. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that investments are necessary for strengthening the economy and ensuring the stability of early care and education.
The ECE Workforce Center comes at a critical time to address these inequities. It will place the more than two million members of the workforce—nearly all of whom are women and are often women of color and immigrants—squarely in the conversation about the innovations and improvements that are needed.
“We know it is hard for families to find quality early childhood programs. One of the reasons is that programs are having trouble recruiting and retaining early educators,” said Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Assistant Secretary January Contreras. “We cannot continue to expect early educators to remain in these critical roles only to earn poverty wages. The National Early Care and Education Workforce Center will help states and localities support early care and education professionals—and, in doing so, support working families.”
The ECE Workforce Center is a collaborative staffed by six core partners: BUILD Initiative, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, Child Trends, DE Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood at UDel, Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass Boston, ZERO TO THREE. In addition, an initial group of organizations will provide support through the team’s Learning through Action Consortium: All Our Kin, Child Care Services Association, EDvance, National Association for Family Child Care, Early Care & Education Pathways to Success, Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies, Start Early, National Workforce Registry Alliance, and the Donahue Institute. The focus and goals of the ECE Workforce Center are designed to examine and address the need for fundamental changes to career advancement systems, compensation, and ECE workplace policies.
The partners aim to prompt and support leaders to advance change that centers early educators’ expertise and leadership across the full range of ECE settings (including family child care homes across Head Start, Child Care and Development Fund, state-funded preschool, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and ECE systems (federal, state, local, Tribes, and territories).
Please stay tuned for more information from CSCCE and the ECE Workforce Center in the coming months.