Strengthening the Diversity and Quality of the Early Care and Education Workforce: Convenings and Paper Series
In 2018, the Foundation for Child Development awarded a grant to the Urban Institute, and its subcontractor Child Trends, to support the professional development of early-career scholars in the Foundation’s Young Scholars Program (YSP) through a series of convenings and commissioned research papers. This initiative resulted in convenings and a research paper series targeting a central topic in the early care and education (ECE) field: strengthening the workforce to best meet the needs of all young children.
Supporting the ECE workforce has never been more important. The quality of children’s early learning experiences is critical for their long-term health and development, especially for low-income children. There is widespread recognition that high-quality early learning experiences depend on effective early childhood educators. As the population of young children continues to become more racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse, it is also important to understand how to maintain a diverse workforce that is well prepared to meet the needs of all young children.
The Young Scholar Program convenings and associated papers focus on challenges, opportunities, and policy solutions related to complementary themes:
- The 2018 focus was Strengthening ECE Workforce Diversity while Improving Workforce Quality, with convening panels and paper topics addressing the following question: How can policy maintain the diversity of the ECE workforce while increasing professionalism?
- In 2019, emphasis shifted from the workforce’s diverse needs to Preparing the ECE Workforce to Meet the Diverse Needs of Children, with convening panels and paper topics addressing the following question: How can policy support preparation of the ECE workforce to meet the diverse needs of young children?
- In 2021, a virtual convening addressed the topic of Racial, Economic, and Social Justice for the Early Care and Education Workforce: Pre–, During, and Post–COVID-19. The convening panels and paper topics addressed the questions about how to strengthen the well-being of the workforce.
The convenings gathered researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and advocates in discussion around these issues. Following each convening, the Urban Institute commissioned and edited papers authored by the Young Scholars on related topics.