Three designations, professional preparation, and scope of practice

In the Discussion Draft upon which this Consensus Document is based, the Task Force described Unifying Framework recommendations for one profession with three distinct designations and aligned preparation pathways. In addition, the Task Force shared recommendations for:

  • Phased-in implementation
  • Short-term exemption policies and flexible ways for the existing workforce to demonstrate competencies
  • The profession itself taking the lead in defining what supports are needed

The Consensus Document aligns with the structures and intent in the Unifying Framework. In addition, Vermont’s workforce raised key questions and concerns that deeply informed the Task Force’s process and the final document.

Consensus Document: Three Designations with Aligned Preparation Pathways (full)(2021)

Consensus Document: Three Designations with Aligned Preparation Pathways (brief)(2021)

Discussion Draft: Three Designations with Aligned Preparation Pathways (2020)

Consensus Document Video: Three Designations with Aligned Preparation Pathways (2021)

1. Support for the three designations

Image from the Unifying Framework. * In states with state-funded preK programs provided in mixed-delivery settings and explicitly aligned with the K-12 public school system, ECE III plays a lead role and ECE II plays a support educator role.

a. ECE I, II, and III

Workforce survey: Agree – 98% 

b. Prepared to work as a team with specific roles to support, lead, guide

Workforce survey: Agree – 96%

c. With compensation and responsibilities increasing as expertise increases

Workforce survey: Agree – 96%

2. Support for the aligned early childhood education preparation pathways

a. 120 clock hours (e.g. CDA), Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree

Workforce survey: Agree – 91%

b. Eliminating barriers to higher education, encouraging innovative programs

Workforce survey: Agree – 95%

3. Support for the implementation commitments

a. A “bridge” that honors the existing workforce

Workforce survey: Agree – 98%

b. Funding for supports and for compensation; realistic implementation timelines, recognition of challenges family child care providers and community-based programs face

Workforce survey: Agree – 98%

4. Key questions and concerns must be addressed

The Task Force went back to the source document, the Unifying Framework, to learn what guidance it provides on key concerns raised by the workforce. Sustaining workforce support for recommendations around “Three Designations with Aligned Preparation Pathways” will depend on how everything unfolds. Beyond the words of this Consensus Document, planning and the details will matter going forward.

The key questions and concerns, and messages in response from the Task Force, are as follows:

a. The important role of experience in determining a designation

Message from the Task Force: We hear your concern about experience. We, on the Task Force, are your colleagues in the workforce doing the same important work you do. We know that experience working with young children and their families matters, as does professional development over the years. As the “bridge” to the three designations is built for our existing workforce, knowledge and expertise must be acknowledged and honored. In our reading of the Unifying Framework, we have confidence that valuing the experience of the existing workforce is the intent of what is being recommended.

b. Support for the particular challenges faced by family child care providers

Message from the Task Force: Some of us on the Task Force work in family child care home settings. All of us believe that early childhood educators in home-based settings deserve consideration. These educators bring unique gifts, deep knowledge and expertise and they have unique challenges and barriers. The standards may be the same, but the approach to get there may differ. This is about taking down barriers and placing supports. We see this commitment reflected in the Unifying Framework and believe that the new system will lead to a lasting change – for a new, respected, valued, stable profession, not a change every three years.

c. Along with the three designations, a plan for a “pipeline” and also a plan for how ongoing professional development and expertise will be recognized

Message from the Task Force: The Unifying Framework structures the three designations to be built upon the Professional Standards & Competencies, which have three levels of increasing breadth and depth, aligned with the three designations. In addition, the three professional preparation pathways, each with its own credential, are aligned with the three designations. We believe that adding more professional designations would undo that alignment, the benefits of which are less fragmentation, a unified national profession, and clear professional development pathways.

We acknowledge the “pipeline” concern given the need to attract more individuals to a career in early childhood education. We note that programs in Vermont already hire “trainees” and assist in their career development. While these individuals are not yet qualified to be part of the profession, it seems important to have that pipeline and their career development align seamlessly with ECE I, to ease their way in becoming qualified to enter the profession.