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A Collective Effort to Transform Early Educator Preparation and Compensation

The Early Educator Investment Collaborative (the Collaborative)—co-founded in 2018 by the Heising-Simons Foundation— has announced a new funding opportunity designed to address structural barriers to a well-prepared and appropriately compensated early childhood education (ECE) workforce.

The ECE workforce is comprised of educators working with children birth to age 8, as well as with their families. As I have written about before, helping all early educators achieve their full potential as professionals is critical to preparing all children for success in school and life.

The Collaborative is comprised of a group of early childhood funders working to transform early childhood educator preparation and compensation systems in states. The Collaborative strives to link early educator professional competencies with professional compensation, and transforming preparation, so that all young children have equal access to high-quality learning experiences grounded in the science of child development.

With this funding opportunity, the Collaborative will support partnerships between institutions of higher education, state agencies, and related entities that want to engage in efforts to catalyze transformative change in the areas of educator preparation and compensation. These efforts may take place within state, territory, or Tribal Nation early childhood systems.

This support will provide resources to reconceptualize educator preparation systems, including a rethinking of:

  • Strategies to support recruitment and retention of racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students;
  • Curricula informed by recent developmental science of child development and adult learning, and that is culturally-responsive in nature;
  • High-quality, clinically-based practicum experience across a variety of ECE settings;
  • Induction supports provided in the early years of teaching;
  • Financial supports for educators to access and complete a higher education program, including paid release time; and,
  • A proposed or piloted strategy to increase financial assistance, remuneration, and compensation across an individual’s educational and career pathway as a student and teacher.

Applications are due March 2, 2020. To learn more about this opportunity and EEIC, click here.

The Importance of Investing in Systems to Support Early Educator Preparation and Compensation

In the United States, there is no coherent policy framework for early childhood education (ECE). Instead, the system is a patchwork of federal, state, and local programs that vary in purpose, children’s age levels, workforce qualifications, funding, and quality.

The ECE workforce, by extension, is just as fractured and under-resourced. For example, ECE professional roles and career pathways are not clearly delineated from entry-to-expert level positions, either across the birth-to-age-8 continuum or across ECE settings. Further, early educator preparation programs face barriers to effectively prepare teachers to support children and families, including wide variations in teacher qualification requirements, and lack of parity in compensation with K-12 teachers.

These structural insufficiencies affect the workforce overall, but disproportionately affect ECE early educators of color. As such, the funding opportunity articulated above focuses on breaking down structural barriers, including those that have historically limited access to and affordability of higher education programs.