The Foundation believes that improving the preparation, well-being, and on-going professional learning of early care and education professionals is essential to enhancing the quality of early learning experiences for all children. Towards that end, institutions of higher education (IHE), particularly early childhood teacher preparation programs, have a significant role to play. Alignment across preparation and professional development systems, founded on a unified understanding of what early care and education (ECE) professionals should know and be able to do, is a necessary infrastructure elements required to support ECE professionals in their work.
The recent Institute of Medicine and National Research Council (IOM/NRC) Report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age Eight: A Unifying Foundation, has several recommendations for IHEs to:
- Build an interdisciplinary shared knowledge base across professional roles and service systems,
- Rethink the content, policies and student supports in their own preparation programs, and
- Better align the most current science of child development and principles of adult learning to their educational practice for students.
As a foundation, we are working to gain a better understanding of strategies to support IHEs in being responsive to the IOM/NRC report’s recommendations. Currently, we are funding the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York (CUNY) to convene a working group, appointed by CUNY’s Chancellor James B. Milliken, to consider the future of its teacher and leader preparation programs across eleven CUNY campuses. Representatives from community colleges, senior colleges, and graduate programs will come together to discuss opportunities for recruitment; assistant teacher, teacher, and leader preparation; and post-graduation support at all levels. This grant seeks to realize the goals in the IOM/NRC Report to build a competency-based, experience-rich approach to teacher education preparation that helps ensure that early educators and leaders are able to create learning environments enabling young children to thrive.