Closing the Leadership Gap: 2018 Status Report on Early Childhood Program Leadership in the United States

by Michael B. Abel, Ph.D. | Teri N. Talan, Ed.D., J.D. | Marina Magid, M.S.


This document may be printed, photocopied, and disseminated freely with attribution. All content is the property of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership.

The Closing the Leadership Gap: 2018 Status Report on Early Childhood Program Leadership in the United States provides an update to the 2017 statistics. The report collectively presents cross-sector statistics related to early childhood program leaders serving young children birth through age eight.

This July 2018 snapshot presents information from the L.E.A.D. Early Childhood™ Clearinghouse, including national and state profiles with the status of policy levers and statistics related to early childhood administrators (site-based directors, family child care providers, and school principals) and their qualifications based on their education, professional development, and experience. Five policy levers are identified to assess the degree to which the nation and states support high-quality program leadership standards. The levers are used to produce ratings for each state to benchmark progress over time in these areas:

  • Administrator Qualifications in Child Care Licensing
  • Administrator Credential
  • Principal Licensure
  • Administrator Qualifications in QRIS
  • Administrator Qualifications in State Pre-K Programs

In 2018, there was no movement on the state policy levers. This highlights the necessity to address the leadership gap in the United States. The findings suggest a continued pressing need for a unifying foundation of administrative qualifications and competencies reflecting a Whole Leadership approach. It also shows that silos of program standards by sector for early childhood administrators can best be eliminated by considering the five policy levers together.

We encourage those who are interested in advancing high-quality program leadership standards to use the data presented in the clearinghouse and this report.

2018 Report