Report Shows Pressing Need for Early Childhood Sector to Adopt Whole Leadership

by McCormick Center


WHEELING, Ill. – While the child care crisis in the United States continues to grow, researchers specializing in early childhood have published data that highlights one of the problems the sector faces: A lack of consistent policies and supports for improving the qualifications and competencies of those who lead early childhood programs.

The research conducted by the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University shows the following important findings:

  • There are 14 times more degree programs to prepare principals than those to prepare center- or home-based administrators.
  • Only Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC require an associate degree (or higher) of directors in child care licensing regulations.
  • Only 9 out of 40 state administrator credentials require a minimum of an associate degree.

Researchers collected data from hundreds of sources, generating profiles that rate the states and nation on a scale of 1-10 based on statistics they found related to early childhood administrators (site-based directors, family child care providers, and school principals) and their qualifications (education, specialized knowledge, professional development, and experience). No state scored above a 6.

Closing the Leadership Gap: 2018 Status Report on Early Childhood Program Leadership in the United States provides an update to the 2017 published statistics. No significant changes were found between the 2017 and 2018 policy lever data. 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. All early childhood program administrators need competency in both administrative and pedagogical leadership. However, the need for Whole Leadership is most critical in the child care sector which suffers from high levels of teacher turnover, an epidemic of program closures, and an increasing number of child care deserts.