The L.E.A.D. Early Childhood Clearinghouse advances the understanding of competency standards for early childhood leaders across settings, sectors, and states. Here are a few ways that the Clearinghouse may be useful for decision makers, policymakers, advocates, scholars, leaders, teachers, and students:
- Policy levers can be used to promote the alignment of standards and the adoption of systems that support consistent and effective program leadership.
- Statistics on the early childhood leadership workforce are readily accessible for reports, proposals, papers, and research studies.
- Characteristics about early childhood administrators can be compared among states.
- Multiple resources can be readily accessed through interactive web links.
Recommendations for Policy
A deep examination of the early childhood program leadership workforce and related state policies confirmed our expectations that broad differences exist across states and sectors. With increasing evidence of the importance of early brain development and the call for better educated and highly skilled early childhood teachers, there has been an astonishing lack of comparable call for well-qualified and highly skilled site-based leaders of early childhood programs.
There are two policy recommendations emerging from the Clearinghouse data. First, across sectors, there is a pressing need for a unifying foundation of administrative qualifications and competencies reflecting a whole leadership approach. A competent early childhood program leader needs knowledge and skills in child development, early childhood pedagogy, leadership essentials, and program administration. Second, the silos of program standards by sector for early childhood administrators can best be eliminated by considering the five policy levers together.
State-funded pre-K and QRIS can impact administrator qualifications, including raising the educational level of program administrators to a minimum of a BA, by providing financial incentives to participate in these voluntary initiatives. Recognizing and rewarding principal licensure standards that include pre-K (birth to five) content areas and field experiences will lead to a more unified foundation for program leaders.
Recommendations for Research
The process of creating the L.E.A.D. Early Childhood Clearinghouse has emphasized the challenges related to accessing consistent and comparable data on early childhood administration. It is evident that segmentation in the field leads to gaps in our knowledge about the leadership workforce. For example, sufficient data was not available to develop a policy lever related to family child care, yet the number of family child care providers exceeds the combined number of early childhood program directors and elementary school principals. While the prevalence and sophistication of state registries is improving, only nine states have developed systems that are rigorous enough to meet the PER guidelines for data submission. The disparity of available data among elementary school principals, early childhood center directors, and family child care providers is striking. A greater commitment of states to develop workforce registries that adhere to rigorous standards in data collection is needed to advance initiatives designed to support the early childhood workforce.