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The foundations for learning and health are built in the first years of a child’s life. Adults who work with young children want and need to understand child development, and have the professional skills, supports and pathways for growth to give our youngest children the strongest start in life.

Experts and leaders from all over California came together in the last year to create a plan to improve the education, training and support of those who work with children.

This work stemmed from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC)’s 2015 report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. The report offers extensive research about early childhood development and the competencies and supports that professionals working with young children need. Drawing on this and other national and California-specific reports, we set out to craft recommendations and specific objectives to address the key issues facing California’s early childhood workforce today.

What We Hope to Achieve

The foundations for health and learning are built in the earliest years of a child’s life: their bodies and brains grow rapidly in this period. We can best support children’s learning and development through supporting high-quality care and instruction. So, we must effectively provide support and train to the adults that are responsible for the care, development, and instruction of young children.

In the proposed system, professionals working with young children:

About the Implemenation Plan

The Implementation Plan outlines priorities for improving California’s early childhood workforce, and details specific next steps to take. We identified three Priority Areas to drive this work:

  1. Permitting & Credentialing
  2. Professional Pathways, and
  3. Higher Education & Ongoing Professional Learning

The Plan

View or Download

Please use the links below to access Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: Implementation Plan for the State of California and associated materials.

Permitting & Credentialing

Professionals working with young children need specific knowledge and skills to help children learn and grow during their most critical years. However, current requirements for early childhood professionals in California vary depending on funding, program type and age, and they don’t consistently measure what candidates should know or be able to do to perform their jobs.

We need to prepare the workforce to help children grow and learn, no matter their story, background or ability. A research-based standard for all the adults in children’s lives will ensure all early childhood professionals are learning the skills and have the supports they need to help children succeed.

The plan offers recommendations for:

Professional Pathways

California aims to attract and retain a high quality early childhood workforce, especially given an imminent teacher shortage. But it is unclear in the current system how to move up within a profession and laterally between professions. This lack of clarity makes professions less accessible for many professionals and less desirable for the best candidates, a lesson made clear by the high turnover rates for early childhood educators in the state.

The early childhood workforce needs a way to plan out their careers and grow in the field, and we need to understand where barriers exist and what resources are required to address them. By outlining all the skills, knowledge, degrees and experiences needed for different careers, professionals will feel empowered to grow, learn and contribute to the field.

The plan offers recommendations for:

Higher Education & Ongoing Professional Learning

California’s early childhood workforce needs to be prepared to meet emerging permitting and credentialing requirements. This will require improvements and changes to California’s higher education systems and institutions. This work should build on and extend the significant ongoing collaboration and articulation work among degree-granting institutions.

We need an education system that teaches future early childhood professionals the skills and knowledge they need to help children thrive. And we need to build mentoring, coaching, and other programs to support lifelong learning at all levels of the early childhood workforce so that they can better support children’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development throughout their careers.

The plan offers recommendations for:


Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: Implementation Plan for the State of California, provides specific objectives and actionable recommendations for experts, policy leaders, communities, and schools across our state. By putting these recommendations to work, we can build a more unified workforce where every early childhood professional is equipped to support the health, development, and learning of every child.

Implementation Activities

In 2017, First 5 California and the California Department of Education Early Education and Support division will continue to convene the Core Team which will take primary responsibility for moving the plan forward and monitoring implementation efforts. In this role, the Core Team will work closely with the existing organizations and collaboratives indicated in the “Responsible” columns in the report to support coordination and monitor progress of efforts.

Core Team Membership

The Core Team is comprised of co-leads from the three Priority Area work groups that developed the plan. Membership of this team has expanded to include additional expertise.

GPG is providing coordination and facilitation support for this work.

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