In February 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released their highly anticipated report detailing 10 recommendations on how to finance quality early care and education (ECE) so it is accessible and affordable to all families and includes a well-qualified and adequately supported workforce.

The committee concludes that “transforming the financing structure for ECE to meet the needs of all children and families will require greater coordination among financing mechanisms as well as a significant mobilization of financing and other resources across the public and private sectors.”

Consensus Study Report Highlights, February 2018

Of particular interest related to a well-qualified and adequately supported workforce is the first in the committee’s Principles of High-Quality Early Care and Education, which states, “High-quality early care and education requires a diverse, competent, effective, well-compensated, and professionally supported workforce across the various roles of ECE professionals.” In addition, the committee addresses compensation in the following recommendation in An Effective Financing Structure.

Recommendation 7: Because compensation for the early care and education (ECE) workforce is not currently commensurate with desired qualifications, the ECE workforce should be provided with financial assistance to increase practitioners’ knowledge and competencies and to achieve required qualifications through higher-education programs, credentialing programs, and other forms of professional learning. The incumbent ECE workforce should bear no cost for increasing practitioners’ knowledge base, competencies and qualifications, and the entering workforce should be assisted to limit costs to a reasonable proportion of postgraduate earnings, with a goal of maintaining and further promoting diversity in the pipeline of ECE professionals.

  • 7a. Existing grant-based resources should be leveraged, and states and localities, along with colleges and universities, should work together to provide additional resources and supports to the incumbent workforce as practitioners further their qualifications as professionals in the ECE field. 
  • 7b. States and the federal government should provide financial and other appropriate supports to limit to a reasonable proportion of expected postgraduate earnings any tuition and fee expenses that are incurred by prospective ECE professionals and are not covered by existing financial aid programs.

Finally, the report reflects back to Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, in its discussion of staff qualifications and compensation, stating, “Drawing on the Transforming report, which asserts that teaching children younger than age 5 is as complex as teaching children of ages 5 to 8 and that ECE educators need an equivalent level of preparation, support, and reward as educators of older children, some scholars propose that compensation levels for ECE educators should be on par with that of kindergarten to 3rd grade (K–3) educators and should be applied to ECE educators, regardless of the ages of children or the type of setting in which they work (see, e.g., Whitebook and McLean, 2017b). Thus, they call for compensation parity with K–3 educators among educators in public prekindergarten, Head Start, and other center-based ECE settings.