Early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings offer an opportunity to provide children with a solid beginning in all areas of their development. The majority of children participate in ECCE before entering kindergarten. The quality and efficacy of these settings depend largely on the individuals within the ECCE workforce. Problems facing the ECCE workforce identified decades ago – such as inadequate training and education, low wages, and high turnover – still persist. Policy makers need a complete picture of ECCE teachers and caregivers in order to tackle these challenges.
The IOM and the National Research Council hosted a workshop February 28 - March 1, 2011, to describe the ECCE workforce and outline its parameters. Speakers explored issues in defining and describing the workforce, the marketplace of ECCE, the effects of the workforce on children, and the contextual factors that shape the workforce. In addition, the workshop featured presentations on the challenges and opportunities that exist in strengthening ECCE as a profession. This document summarizes the workshop.