Early Care and Education Workforce Demographic Series: A Look at Professional Characteristics, and Comparisons with Child and Community Characteristics

Publication Date: February 4, 2021

Introduction

Cultural competencies and the capacity to provide culturally-responsive and relevant experiences in early care and education settings are emerging as critically important aspects of provider quality. At the same time, the education field has noted a misalignment between the demographic characteristics of children and those of teachers and caregivers. Given mounting evidence (Dee 2005, 2007; Mundt, Gregory, Melzi, & McWayne, 2015) for the importance of demographic similarities between teachers and caregivers in early care and education settings and young children, it is important to understand the characteristics of the ECE workforce, broadly, and examine if they are demographically similar to the populations of children who use care in each setting.

In this series are two reports and one snapshot. Together, they present a national portrait of the demographic diversity of center-based and home-based ECE teachers and caregivers from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), and include examinations of the professional characteristics of each subgroup, as well as the concordance between teacher and caregiver demographic characteristics and the characteristics of the children and communities they serve.

Purpose

These resources are the first to detail the demographic alignment between ECE teachers and caregivers, children, and communities at a national level.

The findings from these resources can be used to inform policy and practice in support of professional pathways for an increasingly diverse ECE workforce, as well as help policymakers and practitioners better understand families’ choices for and uses of care.

Key Findings and Highlights

Professional Characteristics report #2020-107

  • Teachers and caregivers in both centers and homes who identified as Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black, and who spoke a non-English language with children, were more likely to have a CDA or a state certificate or endorsement and less likely to have a bachelor’s degree than those who were non-Hispanic White, or who spoke only English with children. A higher proportion of teachers and caregivers in centers and homes who were born outside the United States had CDAs or state certifications to teach young children compared with teachers and caregivers born in the United States.
  • Teachers and caregivers in both center-based and home-based settings who identified as Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black and/or who spoke a non-English language with children were more engaged in professional development opportunities than non-Hispanic White and/or English-only speaking teachers and caregivers, including college course enrollment, working with a coach or mentor, and professional organization membership.

Demographic Characteristics report #2020-108

  • The ECE workforce seemed to closely match the demographic characteristics of the communities in which they served. For example, there were more non-Hispanic Black teachers and caregivers in high-density non-Hispanic Black communities compared to low-density non-Hispanic Black communities. However, the center-based workforce appeared less reflective of the communities in which they served when compared with the home-based workforce.
  • There were more Spanish-speaking teachers and caregivers in non-relationship-based home-based settings in 2012 than children in home-based care who spoke Spanish at home.
  • In centers, there were more children who spoke a language other than English at home and who lived in an immigrant household than there were teachers and caregivers who spoke a non-English language when working with children or who were born outside the United States, respectively.

A Demographic Comparison snapshot #2020-128

  • In 2012, the majority of home-based teachers and caregivers were non-Hispanic White, were born in the United States, and spoke only English when communicating with children in their care.
  • Forty-two percent of the home-based workforce responded, “Don’t Know,” “Refused,” or provided no answer at least once when reporting on the racial and ethnic identity of children in their care.
  • Among those who provided information, home-based teachers and caregivers tended to care for children with whom they shared a racial or ethnic identity.
  • Home-based teachers and caregivers who spoke languages other than English were more likely to care for children who do not speak English at home compared to home-based teachers and caregivers who spoke only English.

Methods

The two reports and one snapshot in this collection report on analyses of the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), a set of nationally-representative surveys of ECE centers and homes, the ECE workforce, and households with young children.

Citation

Paschall, K., Madill, R., & Halle, T. (2020). Professional characteristics of the early care and education workforce: Descriptions by race, ethnicity, languages spoken, and nativity status. OPRE Report #2020-107. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Paschall, K., Madill, R., & Halle, T. (2020). Demographic characteristics of the early care and education workforce: Comparisons with child and community characteristics. OPRE Report #2020-108. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Hill, Z., Ekyalongo, Y., Paschall, K., Madill, R., Halle, T. (2021). A demographic comparison of the listed home-based workforce and the children in their care. OPRE Report #2020-128, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.