Widening our view of Early Childood Education and considering the notion of a Community of Practice, with a better understanding of roles within our local and state professioal circle, it is now important to look even further and consider National and Federal contributors, organizations and roles that can play a role in our professions.
In my area, the Lehigh Valley (Pennyslvania), there are a few agencies such as Community Services for Children, LANAEYC and the United Way of the Lehigh Valley which stood out to me and had roles that appealed to me however expanding to a national or federal level was more challenging. There were fewer opportunities and less options in organizations to choose from, many of the resources I initially found tied back to a state or local level somehow. Of the nation-wide organizations that I found that were of interest to me the Council for Professional Recognition, the National Women’s Law Center and Child Care Aware were three organizations of note that caused me to explore more.
Council for Professional Recognition (https://www.cdacouncil.org/index.php)
The Council for Professional Recognition promotes improved performance and recognition of professionals in the early childhood education of children ages birth to 5 years old while working to ensure that all professional early childhood educators and caregivers meet the developmental, emotional, and educational needs of our nation’s youngest children through training and education. This organization manages the Child Development Associate, which in my state is the lowest education acceptable for a qualified candidate meeting Keystone STARS Standards. There are many professionals who have been in the field for a long time or do not have a two or four year degree that are excellent at their work while others need a little fine-tuning to get up to speed in the field. The CDA allows for professional The Council sets policies and proCompetency Standards and other materials used for CDA credentialing, and administers the assessmentgrowth and the awarding of a credential that does not require an entire course of study. The Council itself is the body that sets forth policies and procedures for assessment and credentialing, publishes the Competency Standards and other materials used for CDA credentialing, and administers the assessment. More than CDA 370,000 credentials have been awarded to date, with approximately 18,000 early childhood professionals becoming new CDAs annually.
The Council itself has a link for employment opportuntites and notes that it is always looking for motivated, enthusiastic people to join the team and provides an email address to send your resume and cover letter to: email@example.com, however does not have specific jobs or positions listed, but rather seems more open-ended. Based on the mission, vision and purpose of the Council, it would be beneficial to consider that qualities and qualifications such as experience in administering professional development, adult learning, early childhood education experience, mentoring or coaching skills, understanding of the CDA process, etc. The organization does have opportunities for individuals to become PD Specialists, which is an individual assigned to a CDA candidate during their assessment and reflection. Requirements to become a PD Specialist in particular include access to technology, knowledgable regarding state requirements, able to conduct verification visits, BA or AS in ECE, Educacation or Child Development, two years work experience with at least one directly with children and one facilitating the professional growth of another adult OR an AA with four years work experience with at least two directly with children and two facilitating the professional growth of another adult.
National Women’s Law Center (https://nwlc.org/issue/child-care/)
The National Women’s Law Center is not an organization that directly relates to child care or early childhood education, however has a specific interest and initiative in Child Care and Early Learning as it relates to women. Overall, the center has worked for more than 40 years to protect and promote equality and opportunity for women and families and note that they focus on promoting or developing policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every stage of their lives — at school, at work, at home, and in retirement.
They note that high-quality child care gives children the boost they need to succeed in school and gives parents support to be productive at work — but only if they have access to the care they need. By considering Child Care Tax Strategies, fair pay and good working conditions for the Child Care Workforce (which is overwhealmingly women), and more, the organization calls on lawmakers across the political spectrum to support funding for early childhood programs that will increase access to high-quality care for families so parents can work or receive education and training to improve their job prospects. The NWLC advocates for policies and effective policy implementation that will make a difference in the lives of the next generation while also partnering with national and state organizations to support policies that will make child care more accessible to families.
Beyond child care, the NWLC focuses on Education and Title IX, which also affects young women and girls considering issues such as affirmative action and equal access to education, discrimination in athletics, unfair discipline practices or ineffective support to deal with trauma, harassment etc, issuses facing pregnant and parenting students, dropout prevention, science and technology training and careers and sexual harassment and assault in schools.
Currently they have a position posted for a Program Assistant in the Income Security and Education Department. It’s job duties include:
- provides critical administrative support primarily to the Income Security and Education (ISE) department, which works on issues including child care and early learning; tax and budget; income supports; and education.
- The assistant will report to the Vice President for ISE and will be responsible for keeping calendars and scheduling appointments; arranging travel for some staff
- Organizing and maintaining paper and electronic files
- Assembling data and preparing reports
- Assisting with conferences, convenings, briefings, and meeting preparation, including a yearly early 80+ person childhood conference in early January
- Preparing documents for distribution (including fact sheets and government relations materials); creating/editing correspondence
- Updating and maintaining the ISE program’s sections of the website
- Helping with web-based and other research
- Administrative support for the staff.
- In addition to administrative responsibilities, the assistant will have the opportunity to perform some program work.
For this role, they are seeking a college graduate or an individual with at least two years’ college and two years’ experience working in an administrative capacity in an office environment with strong computer skills, strong office skills, excellent written and oral communication skills, and more. First year salary $40,000. NWLC offers excellent benefits, including pre-tax flexible spending accounts for medical, dependent care, and transportation, and four weeks of annual vacation. Office located on the Red Metro Line in Dupont Circle. Intellectually stimulating workplace with passionate, dedicated colleagues.
Child Care Aware (http://childcareaware.org/)
Child Care Aware of America works with more than 400 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies nationwide while promoting and upholding their vision, which is that every family in the United States has access to a high quality, affordable child care system. The child care system supports children’s growth, Development and educational advancement and creates positive economic impact for families and communities. Child Care Aware is a central location of child care information for parents and child care providers which helps families learn more about the elements of quality child care and how to locate programs in their communities as well as provides child care providers with access to resources for their child care programs. Chlid Care Aware has both a live chat and a ttoll-free hotline which are both staffed by highly-trained Child Care Consumer Education Specialists who offer both parents and providers invaluable information about child care and referrals to local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies where parents or providers can receive assistance.
There is limited information provided regarding the duties and expectations, as well as requirements for someone working with Child Care Aware, but the majority of their employment needs surround their call centers, hotlines and Child Care Consumer Education Specialists. These individuals must be well trained and able to handle calls, questions and provide information to both parents and families as well as professionals such as teachers or program administrators, have excellent conversational and customer service skills and have experience managing high call volume.