With several of the Global Goals focused on young children, including a target for expanding equitable and quality early childhood services for all, positive pressure on countries to raise access and improve quality of diverse forms of provisions for young children is likely to increase in the coming years. The ability to recruit, retain, and support qualified workers in early childhood settings is critical for ensuring that these Goals are met. Yet, limited information is available on the early childhood workforce, including their training and professional development, practices, and working conditions in low- and middle-income countries.
To drive forward the global effort to support and strengthen the early childhood workforce, Results for Development (R4D) with initial funding from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, and the ELMA Foundation has partnered with the International Step by Step Association to launch the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative.
The initiative is a new global effort to support and empower those who work with families and young children under age 8, as well as those who supervise and mentor frontline workers. This initiative works at the level of country systems and policies to strengthen four thematic areas essential to workforce development:
- Competences and standards
- Training and professional development
- Monitoring and support for continuous quality improvement
- Recognition of the profession.
The Early Childhood Workforce Initiative approaches the workforce issue in a holistic, multi-sectoral manner and focuses on those who work with families and children under 8 years of age, such as home visitors, teachers, paraprofessionals, as well as those who supervise and mentor frontline workers: trainers, coaches, program managers. By engaging existing and emerging regional early childhood networks, as well as policymakers and other relevant groups, the initiative aims to support knowledge creation and sharing as well as collaborative learning activities.
Through 2018, the main activities include:
- Online portal: Documenting global, regional, and local workforce initiatives and housing and disseminating research, training packages and other key resources on a new online portal. The portal also serves as an online space to host peer learning activities, such as webinars, where policymakers, training providers, practitioners, experts, researchers and representatives of civil society can learn about new promising approaches, research, and tools relevant to addressing workforce challenges.
- Country studies & global landscape analyses: Conducting rigorous country-level studies to gather and analyze information to give actionable policy recommendations for scaling up a quality workforce. Global landscape analyses will review existing evidence around each of the four thematic areas to establish the size and scope of global challenges facing the workforce. The evidence generated by these pieces of work will help frame the collaborative learning agenda for the initiative.
- Collaborative learning: Bringing together country representatives and diverse, global experts to identify shared challenges, learn from innovative and promising practices, and co-develop knowledge and practical resources that can be incorporated and embedded at scale in national systems and policies.