Advancing the Illinois Early Childhood Education Workforce: A Model College and Career Pathway (2017-3)

Stephanie A. Bernoteit, Janet K. Holt, and Amber Kirchhoff

The early childhood educator workforce has widely ranging credentials and degrees, qualifications and compensation, typically varying by setting. Yet, there is a national call for aligning and strengthening requirements for preparation of the early childhood workforce to ensure that young children thrive and reach their potential at each stage in their development. This policy brief, Advancing the Illinois Early Childhood Education Workforce: A Model College and Career Pathway, proposes and describes a pathway model that accomplishes these goals, building on the existing early childhood credentialing and postsecondary degree structure in Illinois to create a seamless system of vertically-aligned preparation for the early childhood workforce with multiple entry and exit paths to fit the needs of this diverse workforce.

“This brief represents the kind of creative, solution-oriented work that happens when state agencies and institutions of higher education collaborate and bring the best of their strengths to solving problems. The pathway model described in this brief builds on existing state work and creates new opportunities for innovation in supporting our state’s early childhood educator workforce, as a whole, to continue to advance their skills and attainment of credentials and degrees”, says Stephanie Bernoteit, Senior Associate Director for Academic Affairs, Illinois Board of Higher Education and lead author of the policy brief.

This policy report, published by the IERC, in partnership with IBHE, details how this pathway model fits in the Illinois context, describes the rationale for its development, and importantly, concludes with recommendations for Illinois policymakers and state agencies, as well as for higher education institutions to continue to develop and advance the early childhood workforce in Illinois. According to Janet Holt, the co-author of the report and Executive Director of the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC),  “The policy report builds on past research of the IERC in early childhood educator preparation, including our recently released report (IERC 2016-3) describing innovations in early childhood educator preparation in Illinois and also builds on the incredible work being done by early childhood faculty across Illinois in partnership with IBHE and other state agencies and organizations, as is highlighted in the recently published monograph, Voices from the Field.”