Council Letter

January 24, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

We need to build more pathways to growth and success in the early childhood profession—and we need to act now, before more children lose the chance for the quality early learning they deserve. We have nowhere near enough teachers, and more are leaving early childhood classrooms each day. To fill the need for this vital workforce in the past, we mainly relied on institutions of higher ed to graduate qualified teachers. But college programs can’t scale up fast enough to fill the demand and are way beyond the financial means of many who want to work with young children. So how can we meet these aspiring teachers where they are at an auspicious time? “This is our moment to reimagine education,” as U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently pointed out in a vision for education in America.

His words strike a chord here at the Council, where we’re now taking steps to reimagine our Child Development Associate®(CDA) Credential™. Our goal is to bring more equity to the credentialing process by increasing access to the CDA® for a wider, more diverse range of teachers. And in the spirit of inclusion, this month we’ll be talking about a part of the early childhood workforce that seldom gets the attention and opportunities it should.

“Nannies make up a really underserved part of the early childhood field in terms of professional growth,” says Danielle McLellan-Bujnak when we profile her in this edition. “We know little about nannies,” she says. “The scholarly work on nannies is slim and tends to include nannies as an aside to another issue. This makes nannies a marginalized group within the somewhat marginalized early childhood workforce.” So, Danielle is giving nannies the chance to develop and learn by teaching a course that combines pedagogical theory with practical tips geared to their concerns. After teaching hundreds of nannies, as Danielle explains, “I’ve learned that nannies have a tremendous desire for information that’s directly related to the real-life context in which they work.”

That’s also the beauty of the CDA as it combines theory with practice. And earning a CDA in high school can open doors early on, as it did for Kyle Wendalowski, as you’ll learn this month. At age 22, he owns an early learning center, even though he struggled in school. “I’m not the best test taker,” he admits, “so I liked the fact that the CDA is not based completely on a written test. Sure, there is an exam, but the observation part of the credentialing process gave me the confidence I needed by showing me how I was doing in the classroom.” This performance-based approach set Kyle on the path to success and you can learn how to give young folks this chance at our webinar on Preparing Students for Child Care Careers.

More high schoolers are earning their CDA as part of the growing interest in career and technical education, Dr. Moore tells us in his new blog. This trend reflects a change in public views as Americans become more concerned with preparing students for careers than for college. Attendance in CTE programs has also soared due to the shift in focus from vocational programs, like auto mechanics, cosmetology and home economics, to a wide range of hot careers: health care, cybersecurity, robotics and ECE. Programs like these give students a route to be job ready and reach students who have trouble connecting academics to their goals. Bringing real-world experiences to students like this can make coursework more relevant, increase their likelihood of graduation and even going on to college.

“Imagine a high school,” Cardona pointed out in his vision of education, “in which every single student is energized, excited and engaged in powerful learning that connects them to their communities, nurtures their career aspirations and provides them with a head start on college.” That’s the promise of CTE, as he explained. It guides students in “making informed choices about the classes they want to take, setting career goals and deciding what pathways to pursue.”

Here’s to reaching your own goals in 2024,
The Council for Professional Recognition


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