When it comes to growing a sustainable early childhood workforce, the field faces several challenges - some of which, such as inadequate compensation levels, can seem too daunting to even know where to start. These issues are complex, and solutions require coordination across systems. The good news is these discussions are happening in Illinois and across the country, and there is growing momentum to lift up the early childhood profession and the practitioners educating our youngest learners. Below, we’ve laid out some of the key challenges in the early childhood workforce, along with efforts underway that highlight progress in these areas and opportunities moving forward.
Illinois has seen a decrease in higher education enrollment across the board, but the drop off in early childhood education programs is concerning for a number of reasons. The drop off is in stark contrast to the growing emphasis on professionalization and increased expectations for teacher qualifications and program quality. Furthermore, this decline has broader implications for future higher education enrollment patterns, as we know quality early childhood education is correlated with educational attainment later in life. The data below comes from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Illinois Early Childhood Degree Programs 2010-2016:
Efforts to increase enrollment and completion of ECE degree programs:
Staff requirements vary by program type, position, and funding stream - which makes it difficult for some practitioners to transition into new positions (i.e. from an early childhood teacher assistant in a licensed child care to an early childhood teacher in a Preschool for All classroom) and challenging for employers to find candidates for open positions. A recent report from the Illinois Board of Higher Education found the following:
Efforts to help new and existing professionals meet qualifications and ease hiring challenges for programs:
HB 4965 extends the eligibility period for families participating in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) from 6 months to 12 months and provides much-needed stability and predictability for children, parents, and providers. Furthermore, this is a federal requirement under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) - and to help states implement all requirements under CCDBG, the federal government has provided additional funding that will cover more than the cost of implementing 12-month eligibility in Illinois. This legislation passed out of the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support on April 20, 2018 (101-3-0), and it is now in the Senate.
Illinois Action for Children's Partner Plan Act Conference
The Annual Partner, Plan, Act Conference provides local collaborations, state systems leaders, and early childhood stakeholders opportunities to deepen their capacity for community systems development through engaging presentations and peer-to-peer exchanges.
The conference plans are being finalized but registration is open now!
Engaging Families In Your Childhood Collaboration
Illinois Action for Children invites you to participate in a dynamic workshop where you can learn the latest proven strategies and tactics for actively involving families in your Collaboration. There is no cost to attend and there are four sessions to choose from:
Get the complete details and register for one of these can't-miss workshops, today!