About the Institute
The mission of the Institute is to promote the implementation of a comprehensive professional development and recognition system that links education and compensation for the child care workforce to ensure high quality care and education services for children and families.
The North Carolina Institute for Child Development Professionals (Institute) is a field-based and lead non-profit organization which provides both free and fee-based services.
- Builds and supplies high quality training opportunities for Early Educators on professional development planning for individuals, organizations and systems.
- Certifies and provides work life benefits to early educators who work directly with and on the behalf of, or intend to work with children ages birth to twelve.
- Creates access to resources and the latest research on workforce issues through its partner network and learning community and via its website.
- Defines and educates others about early childhood professional development system elements and strategies.
- Offers speciality endorsements to early educators who work directly with and on the behalf of young children and families and to service providers who support the health and safety of children served in out of home settings.
- Offers networking opportunities for early educators through in-person and virtual events.
- Partners with early educators, government agencies, non-profit organizations, business and industry, parents and research and advocacy groups to improve workforce education, compensation and retention levels.
- Provides consultation services on professional development strategies, systems development and grant development.
- Produces tools, publications, research and reports and collects and disseminates data about the NC early childhood workforce.
- Supports the provision of professional development services through trainings, networking opportunities and resources.
Debra Torrence, Institute Director
The Institute has since its inception sought to improve the education and compensation levels for a workforce of over 40,000 low-wage women and men, the majority with dependent children.
The work of the Institute addresses a very important need in our state – to support the development of a well-qualified and compensated workforce to provide healthy, safe and stimulating environments and experiences for over a quarter million young children and their families.
The Institute actively involves child care providers in all levels of its work from governance to product design. Institute Task Groups, led by child care providers develop tools and strategies and design and offer trainings. The Institute actively engages the workforce through its email blasts, EEC Facebook page and dynamic website. And reaches the workforce with its resources through a large partner network including state government, professional associations, early childhood support services, and research and advocacy groups to engage early educators, parents, business leaders, organizations, and policy experts in work to address its mission.
Collaboration & Planning
The Institute is composed of a large partner network. Partners include early educators who work directly with and on the behalf of children ages birth to twelve served in early care and education settings.
Public and private partners support the work of the Institute through funding, participation on Task and Work Groups and Committees, resources, meeting space, materials and support for the implementation of strategies and activities.
Defining an Early Educator Professional Development System
Why is a strong early childhood professional development system important? Over the last two decades there has been increasing interest in learning about the experiences of children in early care and education settings: what settings are good and how early care and education influences later school performance and behavioral patterns.
In particular, we have learned a great deal in recent years about the benefits and cost of high-quality early care and education services, and how to improve programs to meet the needs of all children. This and the evidence about the impact of a teacher’s education has increased the need to shift from scattershot training to intentional forms of ongoing education and professional development to build, grow and retain a high qualified workforce.
Professional development, in this context, refers to a combination of education and continuing education via college courses, continuing education units, conferences and professional forums as well as workshops.
Well-designed professional development includes a broad range of activities and audiences:
- it benefits providers in all settings;
- it responds to the needs of Early Educators at all levels, from entry-level assistants to multi-site administrators;
- it spans a continuum of information and format, from short-term workshop-style training to college-level education to continuing education.
- it is focused on services that are provided to children ages birth to twelve in early care and education and school age settings.
Why It Matters
A quality workforce matters…
For Our State, Business and Industry
What It Is
An early childhood professional development system is a comprehensive approach to providing professional development opportunities. When an effective ecpd system has been built:
- Vision exists to serve all those working with children in all settings serving children birth to twelve.
- Core knowledge is delineated, a set of information and skills that all providers need to know is developed, and education and training is offered to make sure that this entire body of knowledge is transmitted.
- Requirements and incentives for providers to pursue professional development opportunities are clear.
- A continuum of education and training for all providers, from entry-level to experienced, exists.
- A system is in place to make sure that the education and training are of high quality.
- A process is developed to assess what education and training providers in a community need;
- Information about education and training opportunities is widely available.
- Information about what opportunities providers have already pursued is available for monitoring and planning purposes.
- Education and training opportunities are offered at times, in places and in languages and formats providers can successfully access.
- Increased knowledge and competence are assessed and rewarded by increasing compensation.
- Education and training are well-funded so that providers are able to attend, regardless of personal financial situations.
In addition, a well-drawn system builds on base education and articulates prior learning (education and training) into the professional development pathway for the individual; supporting forward progress toward personal education goals without redundancy and continuing education is provided by highly qualified staff.
- Qualified and well-compensated professionals are essential to ensuring high-quality early childhood education programs.
- Frontline professional development support personnel need the latest research, strategies and tools to support the provision of accessible, affordable professional development options that meet the needs of the workforce
- Systems need a cost efficient mechanism to inform the use of resources, support federal and state mandates for higher levels of professional development and access comprehensive workforce data.
- State policies and financing of the professional development system have a significant impact on the recruitment, quality, and retention of early childhood professionals.
- Policymakers must be informed to support intentional, evidence-based and financed systems of professional development for these professionals is critical to ensuring that children have high-quality early development and learning experiences.