Quality early care and education can have lasting positive effects on young children, especially those growing up in low-income families. However, there are ongoing challenges in recruiting, supporting, and retaining a qualified, healthy, and stable early care and education (ECE) workforce that reflects the linguistic, racial, and ethnic diversity of the families and children ECE programs serve. Turnover rates, for example, are relatively high in the ECE field, which have negative consequences not only for children, but for teachers and providers.
There are several aspects of ECE work that can inhibit recruitment and retention, such as high stress and burnout, low levels of compensation and education, and limited opportunities for training and professional development. But there is limited evidence on what strategies might improve them and what strategies work best for different types of workers and in different settings.
The Building and Sustaining the Early Care and Education Workforce (BASE) project aims to increase knowledge and understanding in this area by documenting factors that drive workforce turnover in early care and education and by building evidence on current initiatives underway at state, local, and provider levels across the United States. In October 2020, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded MDRC a contract for the project. The objective is to identify effective approaches to recruiting, supporting, and retaining a qualified ECE workforce.