One of the recommendations in the Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation calls on groups to “collaboratively develop and periodically update coherent guidance that is foundational across roles and settings for care and education professionals working with children from birth through age 8.” To begin to answer this call, several policy and advocacy organizations have come together (Disclaimer: New America’s Early & Elementary Education Policy program is part of this group) to consider what the recommendation means for our work. One result of these discussions was a National Academy of Medicine discussion paper, A Unified Foundation to Support a Highly Qualified Early Childhood Workforce, published over the summer, that identifies a set of unified actions to help advance a highly qualified professional field of practice.

In the paper, we call on the field to work together to better coordinate and align early care and education to ensure that efforts effectively support young children’s learning and development.  And, we say it will be important to coalesce around “a shared evidence base and set of evidence-informed policies and practices to improve the quality of the early childhood workforce and to build a professional pipeline for the workforce serving children from birth through age 8, particularly as this period serves as the foundation for the education and development of children as they continue to grow and develop.”
One purpose of this paper is to make a public commitment to work collaboratively to support and guide efforts, rooted in evidence, to improve the early care and education workforce. The individual authors (I am one of them) outline five key actions we commit to taking as we conduct our related work:

  1. Continually review the research and lessons from existing national, state, and local efforts and develop coherent guidance for policymakers, program leaders, and care and education professionals.
  2. Disseminate and apply the guidance through various mechanisms that match the goal and audience, such as electronic communications, virtual and in-person learning opportunities, and technical assistance for policy development and implementation.
  3. Help local and state programs, leaders, agencies, and advocates identify organizations that provide technical assistance (TA) and coordinate these services to ensure they complement and build on each other.
  4. Leverage opportunities, as appropriate to their roles, to promote more adequate and sustainable investments at local, state, and national levels in the birth through age 8 workforce and its systems of supports to advance the recommendations found in the Transforming the Workforce Because existing resources are inadequate to support and sustain a high-quality early childhood workforce, these organizations can identify ways to increase effective investments for a thriving field.
  5. Engage the early childhood workforce in all of the above activities.

You can find the full discussion paper here. You can find New America’s writing on improving the the birth through age 8 workforce here. And, coming soon is New America’s Transforming the Early Ed Workforce: A Multimedia Guidebook, which will summarize key discussions from the full volume, distill select concepts and ideas, highlight examples of efforts to improve the workforce, and house useful resources and tools for national, state, and local work. Our expected release date is December.

[Cross-posted at Ed Central]

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Laura Bornfreund is deputy director for New America's Early Education Initiative. Before joining New America, Ms. Bornfreund consulted for a number of education policy organizations including the Forum for Education & Democracy, Institute for Educational Leadership, and Common Core. She began her career as a 4th grade teacher. Ms. Bornfreund holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Central Florida.