Early care and educational (ECE) professionals play a critical role in the lives of young children because it is primarily the quality of interactions and the environmental stimulation they provide that have an impact on children’s learning and development. The Foundation acknowledges that the quality of professional practice in implementation of early care and education programs is critical to the wellbeing of young children and their families.
As part of our effort to improve ECE professional practice, we have focused on the experience of early care educators working in public and community-based settings within the New York City (NYC) Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) program. In 2015, we began to convene educational researchers from local institutions of higher education and representatives from the city agencies to collaboratively develop an ECE research agenda. This work led to the formation of the New York City Early Childhood Research Network, which is currently facilitated by the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York.
The Foundation has funded studies within this Network to provide NYC officials (Department of Education, Administration for Children’s Services, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Center for Economic Opportunity with the Office of the Mayor) with a better understanding of the inter-connections among ECE professional characteristics, program components and supports, and classroom instructional practices. The studies are not designed to serve as program evaluations. Rather, each study is intended to provide the city agencies with useful and actionable information that can lead to continuous quality improvement. Further, the studies can assist individual programs to better support their teaching staff and improve instructional practice. States and localities across the country will also be able to learn lessons about implementation and scale-up of ECE programs from the NYC experience.
Please read more about the current studies of ECE professional practice within the NYC UPK system in our New York City Early Childhood Research Network Summary and here.