A group from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) visited ICD this month to hear from our early childhood experts. They met with faculty and students at Campbell Hall, toured the Child Development Laboratory School (CDLS), visited a number of ICD labs, and watched student teachers in action.
CEED Director Ann Bailey, PhD, and Research Associate Alyssa Meuwissen, PhD, were invited to speak to the visiting group about issues surrounding the early childhood workforce. Early care and education programs (family- and center-based child care, Head Start, school-based preschool programs, early childhood special education, and early childhood family education) have great difficulty attracting and retaining staff. Burnout is a common problem among early childhood educators, as are the consistently low wages. And a nationwide child care shortage was worsened by the pandemic.
“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with legislators about the complex challenges facing the early childhood sector,” says Bailey. “These challenges are not unique to a particular region or state. They are not confined to urban or rural areas. No matter where you are in the country, issues around access to early care and education are impacting your local community and economy.”
Bailey and Meuwissen also relayed information about what’s working well for the early childhood workforce, including promising practices for improving recruitment, retention, and the quality of care.
Meuwissen added, “The policymakers in attendance were very interested to hear about our research findings around possible solutions to some of the problems facing the early childhood workforce. As an example, the growing practice of reflective supervision is showing promise is supporting the workforce and addressing staff burnout.”
The tour was an Early Child pre-conference opportunity for attendees of NCSL’s Education Chairperson Retreat, which was held on campus the first week of October. Legislators from Alaska, New Hampshire, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as policy analysts from New Mexico and NCSL, participated in conversations about the intersections of developmental psychology research and early childhood policy.