Should Early Education, Home Visiting Fields Seek More Coordinated Education?

Should Early Education, Home Visiting Fields Seek More Coordinated Education?

An education and policy question for early learning professionals: Would increased coordination between the home visiting and early education fields support a higher-quality workforce?

A Child Trends post tackles the topic, suggesting that “while there is consensus in both the early care and education (ECE) and home visiting (HV) fields that a well-trained early childhood workforce is a central pillar of high-quality early childhood programs, neither field has a cohesive approach to professional development (PD). Given the overlap in families and children served by the ECE and HV fields, both could benefit from combining resources, sharing strategies, and working together more closely to support their staff.

To begin, the authors note, there is not an excessive amount of cohesion in approaches to either field:

“In ECE, myriad entities implement and regulate PD: community colleges and universities, local nongovernmental organizations, professional associations, credentialing agencies, and state and federal governments. These entities have different expectations and requirements, which has resulted in considerable variation in the content and delivery of ECE PD.”

“There is even less cohesion in the HV field, in which there are no federal standards or nationally recognized credentialing agencies governing PD for home visitors. The largest funder of home visiting—the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program—allows PD to be managed through individual grantees. Given this lack of centralized regulatory structure, HV PD initiatives are largely siloed at the state and local agency levels.”

However, work is being done “to better align [professional development] across the ECE and HV fields.” Examples include:

  • Develop core competencies across the early childhood fields. “A report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) suggests that a standard set of competency-based qualification requirements can play an important role in creating a coherent early childhood workforce.”
  • Expand ECE post-secondary education programs to include HV. “Partly in response to mounting evidence that post-secondary education and specialized training in child development may better prepare ECE providers, the NAS report calls for increasing educational requirements for the ECE workforce.”
  • Develop comprehensive early childhood career pathways. “Increasingly, the ECE field is movingtoward a career pathways approach—a structured, transparent progression of educational qualifications, training, and credentials—to inform ECE PD.”

The authors conclude: “A well-aligned, well-prepared workforce is a necessary component of high-quality early childhood services for children and families, but the field cannot achieve this goal without a comprehensive, systemic approach to PD. These realistic, on-the-ground approaches have the potential to be integrated and scaled to benefit all early childhood professionals.”