Preparation and Retention of the Early Childhood Care and Education Workforce in MarylandReport as inadecuate

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Increasing awareness of the vital developmental implications of the care and education of young children has led to efforts in Maryland to advance early childhood care and education (ECCE). To that end, Maryland has consolidated ECCE services into one division of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and developed a number of innovative programs. These programs include a child care credentialing and rating system, increased availability of public prekindergarten, an early childhood comprehensive readiness assessment system, and provision of mental health services in early childhood settings. As of 2015, Maryland ranks 14th and 13th in access to preschool for three and four year olds, respectively, and 17th in spending. Additionally, in 2010 and 2014, Maryland successfully competed for federal funding awards to expand preschool programming. Training and retaining a competent and effective workforce needed to staff Maryland's ECCE facilities is a critical factor in continuing this leadership in serving Maryland's young children and their families. The analyses in this report used data from the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) to examine the workforce outcomes of students who earned associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, or certification in ECCE related fields. These data were linked to the wages earned in the first calendar year after earning the degree or certification. This report also examined the retention of these graduates in the Maryland ECCE workforce. Finally, we examined the workforce outcomes of Maryland high school students who worked in ECCE related fields. The report concludes with recommendations for future research on the preparation, employment, and retention of the ECCE workforce in Maryland. Maryland is a national leader in early childhood care and education (ECCE). The consolidation of licensure and registration of child care and early childhood education services into one division of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) in 2005 (Preschool for All in Maryland, 2007) demonstrated the state's commitment to a seamless and integrated approach to supporting both the care and education of young children and their families. The state has also developed innovative programs designed to improve the lives of young children, particularly those most vulnerable. These programs include: (1) a multi-level child care credentialing system; (2) a rating system (Maryland EXCELS) for child care programs; (3) before and after school care; (4) family child care homes; (5) public prekindergarten based on national standards of program quality; (6) an early childhood comprehensive readiness assessment system (Ready at Five, 2014); (7) Judy Center Partnerships; and (8) an initiative designed to provide mental health services (MSDE, 2011). Growing understanding of the importance of early childhood experiences in shaping subsequent developmental and educational trajectories (Burchinal, Vandergrift, Pianta, & Mashburn, 2010; Yoshikawa et al., 2013; Zaslow et al., 2010) has heightened policy interest in factors that influence high quality early education, including the role of teachers and other ECCE professionals. Maryland initiatives have targeted the development and retention of a competent workforce as a high priority. ECCE professionals, in both child care and early education settings, meet the varying needs of families of young children with safe, high quality, and educationally rich settings for their children, whether or not parents work. It is important to note that throughout this report, the term preschool is used to refer to early childhood education programs, which have as their primary purpose educational enrichment for young children, generally between the ages of three and five. The term child care is used to refer to programs (both center and home-based) which have as their primary purpose the daily care of children while parents are out of the home due to work or school obligations. Child care and preschool programs are not necessarily mutually exclusive; many child care programs have extensive, high quality educational curricula, and some preschool programs offer close to full-time care for working parents. Some preschool programs offer optional wrap-around-care, which provides additional hours. However, the licensure, staffing, and curriculum requirements are distinct for child care and preschool programs in Maryland. Much of the research background on the effects of early education on children's academic achievement and development discussed in this report are based on data collected in preschool settings. Maryland ranks 13th in the country in access to preschool programs for four year olds and 16th for three year olds; while for overall state level spending Maryland ranks 17th (Friedman-Krausse, 2015). Despite delays in implementation due to state budget constraints, initiatives such as Preschool for All, established in 2007 (discussed below), have included new approaches for the training and retention of qualified ECCE professionals. Maryland was one of the first nine states to receive funding through the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge program in 2010, and an additional federal award for the Preschool Expansion Grants program in 2014. One of the priorities of both programs is to design, develop, and maintain the continued professional development of teachers in ECCE programs. In the past, professionals in ECCE were often told that their career was a "calling" or that a "love of children" was sufficient expertise to work in early childhood settings. This implied that preparation was not necessary to work with young children, and in the process, diminished the professional components of education and specialized training for effective professional practice and a successful career in the field. Those days are long gone. Recent research supports the conclusion that high quality early education programs contribute to children's long-term health, developmental, and learning outcomes (Center on the Developing Child, 2007; Gormley, Phillips, & Gayer, 2008; McClelland, Acock, & Morrison, 2006; Phillips & Meloy, 2012). Teachers who are able to understand and support children's strengths, are knowledgeable about the risk and protective factors that influence development (e.g., Walker et al., 2011), can differentiate instruction to reach all children, and facilitate positive adult-child interactions will have the greatest influence on young children's learning and growth (Burchinal et al., 2008; Yoshikawa et al., 2013). Therefore, the ECCE workforce needs to be explicitly connected to training and professional development opportunities that equip these professionals to meet these goals. The current range of early childhood service options across Maryland means there are likely wide variations in the experience, training, knowledge, and skills of the ECCE workforce. As Maryland increases access to publicly funded preschool, the need for a well-trained ECCE workforce will expand as well. In the past, we have known little about the Maryland ECCE workforce. This is beginning to change through the advent of quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) and other mechanisms for gathering longitudinal data about ECCE across the state. This report begins with an overview of ECCE policies in Maryland and reviews several national research studies that offer information relevant to training and retaining the ECCE workforce. We then use data from the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) to link ECCE postsecondary degree earners to their workforce records. The ability to link data across state agencies enables us to provide information about the wages earned, industries worked, and retention status of ECCE professionals trained in Maryland colleges and universities. We conclude with recommendations for future research on the ECCE workforce in Maryland. The workforce outcomes of Maryland postsecondary students were examined using data from the MLDS that linked postsecondary degree earners with their wage data. Specifically, we focused on postsecondary students who graduated from a Maryland college or university in a discipline or field of study related to ECCE. We started with all associate and bachelor's degree earners across all years from the 2008-2009 to the 2012-2013 academic year. These students received degrees in one of the following four programs: (1) "Elementary Education and Teaching" (Classification of Instructional Programs [CIP] code 13.1202); (2) "Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching" (CIP code 13.1209); (3) "Early Childhood Education and Teaching" (CIP code 13.1210); or (4) "Child Care Provider/Assistant" (CIP code 19.0709). The research to date suggests several important areas where data on the ECCE workforce can inform decision-making in the arenas of practice, programming, and policy. First, as previously noted, it is well-documented that low levels of education, low wages, and instability characterize the ECCE workforce nationally. Improvements in these areas are likely to trigger an increased ability to attract and retain qualified professionals into ECCE fields where shortages exist. Credentials help to professionalize the ECCE workforce and are tied to higher wages, which in turn would predict greater stability in the workforce. Maryland already requires publicly funded preschool programs to hire teachers with at least a bachelor's degree, a pre-kindergarten specialization, and 15 or more hours of in-service teacher training (Barnett, Carolan, Squires, Clarke Brown, & Horowitz, 2015). It will be important to track the credentials and educational attainment of ECCE professionals in center or home programs where quality is likely to be more variable, and several mechanisms are in place that will help to provide this information, including the Maryland Child Care Credentialing System and Maryland EXCELS. The analyses provided in this report are a snapshot of the ECCE postsecondary to workforce transition in Maryland. As the Center's data system builds and collects more years of data, more in-depth preparation and retention analyses can be completed. This will provide more extensive information to inform policy and programing on both the postsecondary institutions preparing these professionals and the education and childcare agencies that employ them. Newly emerging data collections on the part of MHEC and MSDE will allow future ECCE workforce reports generated by the MLDS Center to include data on early education programs housed in Maryland school districts. Additionally, the Center will be able to examine characteristics of the child care providers and the students served. Furthermore, linking information about ECCE programs, teachers, and professionals to information about the students they serve will allow analyses examining the impact of the Maryland ECCE workforce on student outcomes. The ability to link this data would provide important information about: (1) the distribution of ECCE professionals across different ECCE settings (e.g., center- or home-based, private or public, etc.), ages of children served, and occupational roles (e.g., directors, lead teachers, teaching assistants, aides, specialists); (2) the characteristics of ECCE teachers and caregivers (e.g., demographics, qualifications, conditions of employment, compensation and benefits, tenure on the job and in the field); (3) the characteristics of ECCE workplaces (e.g., distribution of staff, supports and professional development offered, turnover, finances, working conditions); and (4) the relationship between characteristics of the ECCE programs and ECCE professionals and future student outcomes. Finally, it will be important to go beyond solely tracking measures of educational attainment or certification when examining ECCE workforce training. This may require collecting additional data. Currently, there is a disconnect between what researchers have learned about factors that contribute to positive learning and social outcomes for children and how the field conceptualizes ECCE workforce skills. That disconnect might be addressed by conducting research on the knowledge and skills of those working in ECCE industries and the quality of interactions between staff and children. In addition, there has been little research on the content of training or teacher preparation programs to determine how well these programs prepare individuals with the knowledge, practices, and skills that have been shown to be effective. This research will help to provide a more accurate and authentic picture of the ECCE workforce in Maryland.

Descriptors: Early Childhood Education, Child Care, Access to Education, Preschool Education, School Readiness, Mental Health, Health Services, Young Children, Educational Finance, Student Records, Educational Attainment, Academic Degrees, Certification, Labor Force, Persistence, High School Students, Higher Education, Postsecondary Education, State Programs, Public Education, Program Effectiveness, Faculty Development, Teacher Education, Educational Quality, Quality Assurance, Longitudinal Studies, Training, Correlation

Author: Klein, Elisa L.; Zheng, Xiaying; Sunderman, Gail L.; Henneberger, Angela K.; Stapleton, Laura M.; Woolley, Michael E.


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