What’s Behind D.C.’s Move to Higher Educational Standards for Early Learning Workforce

Decades of research on early learning, including the 2015 report (Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age Eight), affirms that the competencies of those working with our youngest learners are essential to high-quality early childhood education environments.

States — including city-states like ours — bear significant responsibility for setting policies and providing supports that ensure children are cared for and educated by teachers with the requisite knowledge and skills to make sure they have the best start in life. D.C. has shown it takes this responsibility seriously by setting high child care licensing standards that will require directors in child development centers to have a bachelor’s degree by 2020, lead teachers to have an associate’s degree in early childhood by 2020 and assistant teachers to have a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential by 2018.

In a recent Q&A with New America (“Q&A with Elizabeth Groginsky on DC’s New ECE Credentialing Requirements“), D.C.’s Assistant Superintendent for Early Learning, Elizabeth Groginsky, provides baseline data on the current workforce and describes the rationale for the new child care regulations and how the District is supporting their implementation. Groginsky outlines the resources available to programs and individual teachers through the Office of the State Superintendent of Education as well as through partnerships such as the Bainum Foundation, which have resulted in the development of Early Childhood Share DC, an online platform for that offers providers classroom and administration resources plus discounts on key supplies and services. The Q&A also includes more information about the First Steps initiative, a program through which high school students can earn their CDA prior to graduation, and the scholarships available for the current workforce to further their education and meet the new standards.

“Persisting with the status quo for the professionals who do this important, complex work will only perpetuate today’s fragmented approach. The ultimate result will be inadequate learning and development of young children, especially among the nation’s most vulnerable families and communities.”

— Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, The Institute of Medicine, 2015.