Known authors in the field of early care and education have defined professional development as “facilitated teaching and learning experiences that are transactional and designed to support the acquisition of professional knowledge, skills and dispositions as well as the application of this knowledge in practice” (Buysse, Winton, & Rous, 2009; National Professional Development Center on Inclusion [NPDCI], 2008, p. 3).
The key components of the PD definition include: (1) characteristics and contexts of the learners and the children they serve and the PD providers (the who), (2) the content focus of professional development (what professionals should know and be able to do), and (3) the organization and facilitation of learning experiences (the how, or the methods and approaches used to implement PD (FPG Child Development Institute).
North Carolina’s Approach
In NC, the early childhood professional development (PD) system is composed of many partners working together to weave a network of services based on identified needs and funding criterion.
Landmark Publications & Efforts
A series of landmark North Carolina publications about the importance of and ongoing, aligned efforts to build the components of an ecpd system has led the state being awarded a federal grant to continue its work in advancing the professional development of early educators.
In 2001, the NC Institute for Child Development Professionals, NC Partnership for Children and NC Division of Child Development & Early Education collaborated on the development of a guide to best practices and resources in planning for professional Development in Child Care. This would be one of the first publications in the state to promote dialogue and planning around workforce professional development needs and supports.
In 2010, the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education funded the development of regional professional development plans. Implemented by the CCR&R Council and the Institute, the plans identified needs and resources in 18 regions across the state. Click here to access the plans and additional details.
In 2005, a study of the early childhood systems was conducted that created a roadmap for improvements in the professional development and compensation of the early childhood workforce. The report assessed six policy areas:
|In 2007, the Early Childhood Leadership & Policy Network released a policy paper to inform constituents about the role of early childhood professional development (education and training) in enhancing child care quality, to share national and state trends and provide policy recommendations made. This brief supports the creation of a professional development plan for North Carolina that pieces together the many initiatives that support the quality of early learning environments as well as the many efforts made by teachers to improve their practices. Policy and research directions outlined in the paper include:
In 2008, the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Workforce Systems Initiative released a policy blueprint for state early childhood professional development systems. The policy paper and support materials were created because qualified and well-compensated professionals are essential to ensuring high-quality early childhood education programs and state policies and financing of the professional development system have a significant impact on the recruitment, quality, and retention of early childhood professionals.The essential policy areas include: professional standards, career pathways, articulation, advisory structure, data and financing. The following four principles are recommended for use in reflecting prior to the creation or change of a policy:
In the same year, the Institute and state partners implemented the first-in-the-nation, field-wide certification system for early educators. All those working directly with or on the behalf of children ages birth to twelve in early care and school age settings were provided with free and low-cost opportunities to become certified. Read more about Early Educator Certification here.
Also in 2008, the FPG Child Devel0pment Institute began working with stakeholders in North Carolina, funded by a grant from the Office of Special Education, to develop, implement and monitor a statewide plan for professional development that crosses traditional boundaries. The National Professional Development Center on Inclusion implemented a “cross-sector” approach in nine states, drawing input from diverse perspectives—agencies, organizations, higher education and families—will be incorporated in all aspects of the system. Click here to access North Carolina materials.
In 2010, the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (NCDCDEE) funded the development of regional professional development plans. Implemented by the NC CCR&R Council and the Institute, the plans identified needs and resources in 18 regions across the state. Click here to access the plans and additional details.
In 2011, the NCDCDEE formed a professional development advisory committee to guide its work and next steps with the Quality Rating Improvement System for regulating child care facilities.
In December 2011, the state was awarded federal funding as one of nine states awarded a four-year Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. Funds from the award will support further development and expansion of professional development strategies (see Section D) and address state priorities in early care and education. Click here to access the North Carolina application.