Policy [M]atters, Episode 8 | Professionalizing Early Childhood Education: Roles and Compensation

by McCormick Center Staff

April 30, 2017

Policy Matters is a quarterly video chat series between Teri Talan of the McCormick Center and a guest author in early childhood policy. Our guest author for Episodes 5-8 is Stacie Goffin. Want to catch up or revisit the series? Explore previous chats and topics here.

Thank you for joining us for Policy Matters: Episode 8.

Stacie and Teri conclude this series by discussing the various critical roles in the field of early childhood education, how compensation matters, and what it will take to truly professionalize the field.

The chat begins with Teri reflecting on where higher education faculty fit within NAEYC ‘s Power to the Profession initiative. Is a member of the ECE faculty, such as herself, a part of the profession?  Or is she an allied professional?  Stacie clearly states why it is important to create boundaries for the professional role of an Early Childhood Educator.  The discussion ends with a consideration of compensation policy.

What questions or comments do you have for  Stacie and Teri?  Share them in the comments section below.

Dr. Teri Talan is the Michael W. Louis Chair at the McCormick Center and Professor of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University. She is co-author of the Program Administration Scale, Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care, Escala de Evaluación de la Administración de Negocios, and Who’s Caring for the Kids? The Status of the Early Childhood Workforce in Illinois.

A recognized leader and author in early childhood education, Stacie Goffin has led change initiatives spanning higher education, local, state, and national organizations; organizational development; and advocacy, resulting in change for systems, policy, and practice. Stacie is a member of the McCormick Center’s Advisory Board and is a frequent presenter at the McCormick Center’s Leadership Connections national conference.
Stacie has authored several books, including: Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era, Early Childhood Education for a New Era: Leading for Our Profession,and Ready or Not: Leadership Choices in Early Care and Education, which was co-authored Valora Washington.

5 Responses to “Policy [M]atters, Episode 8 | Professionalizing Early Childhood Education: Roles and Compensation”

  1. Michele Lopez says:

    Thank you for the information. It will be tough to professionalize a field, with so many educators and various professionals. I myself, have an ECE and Social Work background. I have worked as a preschool teacher, a toddler teacher, a Kindergarten teacher and now as a Early Head Start and Head Start Specialist. I know we all wear different hats, but we provide the same service to support the lives of young children. We can do it!

  2. Laura Newman says:

    Thank you for this fabulous piece to cap the series. I watched this segment with intense interest having just written a training entitled, Professionalism in the ECE Program: It All Begins With You! My first question to participants asks what a profession is and what comes to mind when they hear the term professionalism? So much of what you address is covered in the training but also carefully and by design woven into my monthly series of director/owner cohort support meeting trainings. This new pilot, designed to extend the successful administrative cohort model offers a safe place where staff gain professional development on topics not typically addressed. Its title seems logical and relevant to launch the program given the implications to inspire, deep dive and take pause for self reflection. Your conversation was directly in line with my own goals for a successful delivery to positively impact those who work directly with the children.

    Bravo for bringing a necessary topic to our industry. I am cautiously optimistic that over time, with continued dialogue, articles, books and blogs, both teachers and those leading early care and education programs will stand mightily and with pride for the work they do to support families. Until we stand united and communicate our own best efforts to make a difference in the lives of those we serve, the profession will continue to be misunderstood and be met with a lack of respect. Your series was a welcome commentary saying what has long been ignored.

    Sometimes it truly does take a village…

    Laura Newman
    Director, The Georgia Alliance for Quality Care
    Project of Quality Care for Children
    Resource & Referral Agency
    Atlanta, GA

  3. Hello, Michelle and Laura. Thank you both for your enthusiastic reception of the final episode of Teri’s and my Policy Chats – and of the series overall.

    You’re right, Michelle; the journey ahead will be challenging, in part because we’ll need to decide whether these roles – and others – have similar scopes of practice and require similar preparation – and if not, how they differ from one another and the implications of these differences for ECE as a field of practice. But I’m with you, we can do it!

    I agree with you, too, Laura, that stepping forward to forge ECE as a professional field of practice, including our being willing to change ourselves and assume the responsibilities and accountabilities that come with recognition as a profession, will take “our village,” plus others as well, who want to see children, families, and society better served and for ECE to thrive as a recognized profession.

    Thanks so very much for being part of these chats and for your comments. Please stay engaged in the conversation and the action steps ahead!!

  4. Cecile Tousignant says:


    We are losing trained early educators who have given up working in the field, bringing us to crisis level. Waiting and waiting and waiting for fair compensation has drained the energy and interest of so many talented early educators. Having a license appeals to me but how far away is this?

  5. Hello, Cecile. Thanks for sharing your passionate concern.

    They reflect an immediate need, one that depends on our finding ways to mend the present – even as we invent a new future for our field – so practicing early educators are more likely to stay engaged with, and committed, to ECE. There are many individuals in our field who are focused on addressing this incredibly important issue – many have devoted their careers to tackling this issue. Clearly, recruiting and retaining well prepared and talented early childhood educators is crucial to the vibrancy of our field.

    How far away is establishing state licensure as a requirement to practice as an early childhood educator? A definitive answer, doesn’t exist, unfortunately.. Efforts to restructure ECE as a professional field of practice will be a developmental journey that rests on the field’s desire to rethink ECE as it presently exists and to come together to create a different trajectory for our field, one that includes (1) being self-governing based on the profession’s purpose and its preparation and practice standards, (2) having capacity as a system to ensure teachers and other roles that may be designated as part of the profession are consistently prepared to a level of competence practice based on our specialized knowledge base and skills, and (3) publicly assuming responsibility for its practices in terms of expanding children’s effectiveness as learners.

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Cecile. I’m hoping you’ll join with me, Teri, and others who’ve decided it’s time for ECE to step forward to help advance ECE as a professional field of practice. Have a nice weekend.