Advancing as a Profession: January 2023 Project Update

Young child in red shirt stacks multicolored cubes

by Susan Titterton

As we turn the calendar to 2023, it’s time to consider the progress we’ve made toward early childhood education becoming a recognized profession and the next steps we are engaged in.

Three years ago at this time in early 2020, the world was about to enter a pandemic. NAEYC’s national Power to the Profession Task Force was wrapping up its work, but the Unifying Framework had not yet been released.

In Vermont, VTAEYC’s Advancing as a Profession Task Force had recently formed and was just beginning to discuss the work of Power to the Profession, exploring: “What is a profession? Aren’t we a profession already? What would it look like if we were? How would it help? What are all the parts? Where do we start?”

From these early conversations, two guiding values emerged: that the exploration of advancing as a profession would be workforce-led, and that decisions would be based on consensus cycles.

From these early conversations, two guiding values emerged: that the exploration of advancing as a profession would be workforce-led, and that decisions would be based on consensus cycles.

In 2022, with the publication of a fourth consensus document, the Task Force completed its goal of determining the answer to: “Will Vermont choose to align with the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession?” Based on extensive outreach over three years and feedback from over 2,000 members of the ECE workforce around Vermont, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

There is clear support for the Unifying Framework’s recommendations on these key elements:

Now, in 2023 and looking forward, there is a new question around which to focus our efforts: “How will the profession work? How will we make it a reality?”

To that end, here is some of the work is underway:

Key ElementImplementation GoalWork Underway
Professional identityIntegrate name of the profession into all arenasToolkit with samples, resources, and strategies being developed for use with staff/ colleagues, families, policy makers, and the public
Three designationsCreate a “bridge” process for experienced members current workforce to demonstrate their expertise and transition into the professionPilot study on establishing equivalencies underway, with potential connections to: CCV’s Assessment of Prior Learning  data Northern Lights Career Ladder BFIS Exploration of whether Illinois virtual reality project has potential as a tool for providing evidence
Aligned professional preparation pathwaysAdopt NAEYC Professional Standards & Competencies (with some appropriate VT adaptation)Under discussion by: Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium VT- Agency of Education BBF Preparation & Professional Development Committee  Northern Lights at CCV
Professional CompensationCreate a wage scale with associated benefits packageMinimum compensation scale drafted and feedback gathered; how it might be funded under exploration
Professional LicensureEstablish a Vermont ECE Profession Board to oversee the licensure processModel Legislation expected from National Commission in February Research on process for Vermont Office of Professional Regulation to establish a new profession  

Finally, in answering the question: “How will we make this new profession a reality?” there is the ongoing need for the workforce and partners to make our voices heard – to say “We’re In!”

Throughout 2023 and beyond, it is time for members of the Task Force, the newly-gathered group of ambassadors, and members of the ECE workforce to bring the message to all the tables and all the conversations we can – that early childhood education needs to be a recognized profession, with all that entails.

For this to happen, we have to talk it, share it, promote it, work for it, and live it.  

Woman in black shirt with a fall tree behind her

Susan Titterton is the Project Coordinator of Advancing Early Childhood Education as a Profession.

Professional development virtual sessions with updates from Advancing as a Profession are happening now. Register here for “What’s the Latest?” dates in January and February.