Every day in schools, homes, and centers across the United States, approximately 2 million adults are paid to care for and educate more than 12 million children between the ages of birth and five. Regardless of setting or role, this almost exclusively female workforce is responsible for safeguarding and facilitating development and learning of our nation’s youngest children.
A wide variety of terms are used to refer to the early childhood sector and its workforce depending on the age of children served, the location of the service, auspice and funding streams, job roles, and data sources. Research and policy analysis at CSCCE focuses primarily on early educators who work in teaching and caregiving roles serving children prior to kindergarten as teachers, assistants, aides, or providers within a broad range of settings, including school- and community-based preschools, Head Start programs, child care centers, and homes. We also examine the characteristics and professional needs of those who fulfill other roles in these settings, see Leadership and Teacher Preparation.
The complexity of the field makes painting a detailed portrait of early educators exceedingly difficult. Depending on the data source used, estimates of the size and scope of the early childhood workforce vary widely. For more information, see the State of the Early Childhood Workforce.