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About the Center

The National Early Care and Education (ECE) Workforce Center is a joint research and technical assistance center. This center builds on broader efforts of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the early childhood workforce by identifying effective policies and strategies through research and evaluation, translating lessons from research for practice, and supporting innovations in states and communities through technical assistance. 

A collective of five partner organizations informed by collaborating partners, ECE educators, federal agencies, and other advisory bodies, the National ECE Workforce Center’s efforts are designed to examine and address the need for fundamental changes to ECE career advancement systems, compensation, and ECE workplace policies that reflect the value and skills the workforce provides to our communities. We view these as key mechanisms for facilitating the successful recruitment and retention of a diverse, qualified, effective workforce and critical to providing high-quality experiences for children and families across all ECE settings and programs. Attention to inequitable systems and the harmful historical and current impacts of racism and sexism on the ECE workforce is essential to our work. 

Understanding that we need a multi-faceted plan—and there is no single strategy to achieve supportive, equitable conditions for educators—our integrated approach uses five key policy areas, or key topics, sourced from the Early Childhood Workforce Index created by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) as an organizing framework.  

Key Topics

Compensation & Financial Relief Strategies

Initiatives and investments to ensure compensation equal to the value of early educators’ work

Financial Resources

Public investment in the ECE workforce and broader ECE system

Qualifications & Educational Support

Policies and pathways that provide consistent standards for educators to achieve higher education

Work Environment Standards

Standards for providing safe and supportive work environments for early educators

Workforce Data

State-level collection of important data on the size, characteristics, and working conditions of the ECE workforce

Our Work

Focused on these key topics, the work of the National ECE Workforce Center can be grouped into the following primary activities: 

Research and Knowledge Development

Includes the production, promotion, and dissemination of rigorous research to identify actionable ECE workforce-related solutions, support the implementation of evidence-informed innovations, and build research capacity

Technical Assistance

Providing universal, targeted, and intensive support for states, communities, and local programs as they work to implement improved and more equitable career pathways, work environments, and compensation systems and strategies

Leadership, Partnership, and Coordination

Engaging experts and strategic partners to elevate existing initiatives and build on efforts underway to inform the activities of the National ECE Workforce Center and the field at large

These activities receive cross-cutting support from a team dedicated to Research-to-Practice, which ensures the strategies, resources, and tools promoted by the National ECE Workforce Center are based on the latest evidence, and that our research is responsive to the information needs of states and communities. Finally, as a center, we are committed to strong Communication and Dissemination to ensure relevant and up-to-date information is available and the center’s research, resources, and offerings are in the hands of people who can use them.