April 1, 2016
Contact: Veronica Mikitka Reed (215.434.7194 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Early Childhood Education Workforce Transformation Initiative
Released Strategies to Improve the ECE Profession

PHILADELPHIA, PA— The Early Childhood Education Workforce Transformation Initiative (ECEWTI), a partnership between Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), Montgomery Early Learning Centers (MELC) and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) previewed its preliminary report data and key findings addressing early childhood education (ECE) workforce issues in Philadelphia yesterday.

“Governor Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney are working to expand pre-K in the state and Philadelphia,” said Natalie Renew, Managing Director of the ECE Group, PHMC. “These initiatives will create more jobs in the field, but our current workforce is unprepared to meet the need for the new jobs. The ECEWTI report is a blueprint for how to grow and advance the workforce to provide quality ECE for more children and families.”

While the benefits of quality early childhood education (ECE) are widely known and accepted, public systems are underfunded and neither serve all eligible children nor serve all children in quality settings. There are multiple, complex factors that challenge bringing quality ECE to scale, and the ECEWTI report provides recommendations for addressing the key issues including: insufficient public rates of pay to ECE providers, insufficient rates of pay to ECE teachers, certified teacher shortages, and limited teacher effectiveness.

Key Issue Findings:

Teacher Recruitment

  • Issue: ECE teacher shortages exist due to both job growth and departure of teachers from the field. Recruitment efforts are hampered by the poor compensation offered. Pre-kindergarten programs require certified teachers and compete with public elementary schools, which pay more and provide more generous benefits, in hiring.

  • Report Recommendations: To adequately bolster recruitment, compensation needs to be addressed. This can be accomplished through increased consultation to providers in maximizing efficiency, and drawing down multiple sources of funding so more can be directed to staff compensation. Advocacy with the Office of Children Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) will also ensure that childcare subsidy rates are based on cost calculations that include appropriate salaries. In addition to compensation, ECE teacher affinity groups can be used to expand to new populations, ECE providers can introduce middle school students to ECE careers and create volunteer opportunities in ECE for high school students. College teacher preparation programs can introduce students to an ECE career and education pathway to promote teaching in the ECE sector. Policy makers can expand means for non-traditional teachers to qualify as certified teachers, by relaxing undergraduate course or degree requirements.

Teacher Preparation

  • Issue: Teacher preparation programs in the region, while accredited, are not fully meeting the needs of their students or the ECE programs that employ them. While the Pennsylvania Department of Education created the pre-kindergarten to grade 4 teacher category more than a decade ago, teacher preparation programs continue to struggle to address the development and needs of young children (birth-5) in their course work and field experiences.

  • Report Recommendations: To better prepare teachers, local higher education institutions, public leaders, ECE employers and experts need to join forces around expectations for the ECE field. ECEWTI created a set of standards for higher education programs, and proposed a set of resources and assistance to help institutions meet these best practice standards for preparing ECE teachers. Other strategies include creation of a website to serve as a comprehensive data source on teacher preparation programs, ensuring that the state’s professional development resources are primarily spent on credit-bearing PD, and leveraging new federal education and workforce development regulations.

Retention and Advancement

  • Issue: In the ECE setting, good teaching is understood to require a teacher to build and sustain a nurturing relationship with the children she teaches. Children experience teacher absences and turnover as loss and, therefore, these factors disrupt learning gains. Turnover among ECE teachers, which hovers at 30 percent as compared to 15 percent in kindergarten to grade-12. This turnover negatively impacts children, families and the learning centers they leave. In addition, high turnover has been demonstrated to prevent ECE programs from improving their quality. The ECE career pathway doesn’t result in salary levels that compensate for the time and cost of further education like career paths in a school district.

  • Report Recommendations: Increased compensation will lower turnover and incentivize advancement. In addition to compensation, funding is needed to study and address workplace environment factors, increase access to credentials for incumbent workers through apprenticeship programs that tie into higher wages and credit for prior learning. In addition, a plan must be created to determine how to provide effective career advising and tuition assistance programs to help teachers earn Bachelor of Arts degrees and specialized certifications.

During the event last night, Anne Gemmell, PreK Director, City of Philadelphia, and Rhian Evans Allvin, Executive Director, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) shared some key insights that include:

- Anne Gemmell:

  • Cities across the county are watching the outcome regarding ECE in Philadelphia.
  • ECE can be compared to Benjamin Franklin’s iconic imagery of the key attached to a kite as an anchor in Philadelphia – today’s anchor being child poverty.
  • While they won’t achieve universal pre-K in Kenney’s first term, the goal is to commit $20MM and increase kids’ access to quality pre-K by 10k slots. By the third year the goal is to commit $60M for pre K.
  • ECE is a “long game for workforce development” — it’s investment in workforce development at the 3 and 4 year old level and today. In order to accomplish this she asked everyone’s support and advocacy for the sugary tax proposal.

- Rhian Evans Allvin

  • Nationally governmental officials across states and party lines understand the issue more and are trying to outdo one another in focusing on early childhood education. Childcare providers have known the science of early brain development and the broader public is now understanding this and therefore supporting ECE investments across the country. Our country is built on starting life with a fair start, but regardless of opportunity there are higher expectations for 5 year-olds entering kindergarten, which isn’t fair.
  • The next big system issue in this country is the investment in high-quality ECE educators.
  • NAEYC is focusing on a communications campaign for the educator to highlight the critical importance of their role. They are also working towards policy changes and uniform credentialing, accreditation requirements across states similar to the nurse practitioners and physical therapists.

The Process Behind the Report: ECEWTI collected the data through online surveys, focus groups, interviews, case studies, secondary data analysis, and literature reviews. Data was collected from employers, staff, and teacher preparation programs in order to learn about the local ECE workforce and to develop strategies for realizing a teacher workforce fully qualified and of sufficient size to deliver quality ECE.

Click here for the preliminary report.


About ECEWTI: Early Childhood Education Workforce Transformation Initiative (ECEWTI) is a partnership between Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), Montgomery Early Learning Centers (MELC) and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). ECEWTI studies the early childhood education sector and develops strategies that will result in a larger, more skilled, and more stable workforce. This is funded by a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation

About DVAEYC: Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) is dedicated to ensuring educational opportunity for every child in the community. To accomplish this, DVAEYC trains early childhood professionals in best practice skills and career development; coaches early childhood education programs to meet higher standards of PA Keystone STARS and national accreditation; and engages policy makers to invest in high quality early childhood education throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Learn more at

About MELC: Montgomery Early Learning Centers (MELC) provides high quality early childhood education and school age programs for more than 1,400 children at 19 locations in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. In addition, through Professional Development Dimensions, MELC helps thousands of teachers improve their practice by creating professional development opportunities and providing guidance. . Learn more at

About PHMC: Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce. PHMC has served the region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit PHMC provides ECE efforts through the Southeast Regional Key, which seeks to increase the capacity of providers to support children’s learning and development; Philadelphia Head Start Partnership that administers Head Start programs to more than 600 children and families in Southwest Philadelphia; Fund for Quality, which aims to expand the availability of quality early childhood education and care opportunities for low-income families; and A Running Start Philadelphia: Facility Fund that provides support to high quality early childhood education providers for the maintenance and improvement of their facilities.