First National ECE Workforce Center Launched
March 1, 2023
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), announced the launch of the new National Early Care and Education Workforce Center (the ECE Workforce Center). The ECE Workforce Center is the result of a $30 million investment to support research and technical assistance for states, communities, territories, and Tribal Nations to improve the recruitment and retention of a diverse and qualified workforce across early care and education programs.
As of early 2020, the child care sector has lost almost 80,000 jobs, or about 7.5 percent of its workforce, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations that provide ECE services today say it is difficult to locate skilled candidates to fill vacancies. At the same time, a significant percentage of early care and education workers, who are overwhelmingly women and often have children of their own, live in poverty. ECE professionals are among the lowest-paid workforces in the country, despite the skills and expertise they possess to successfully support the development of young children.
The ECE Workforce Center's research and technical assistance activities will work together to:
- build a career pipeline for the early care and education workforce, including support for pursuing credentials and degrees while maintaining the strong diversity of the early childhood sector; and
- identify and implement sustainable approaches to increase compensation and benefits.
The ECE Workforce Center builds on HHS’ broader efforts to support the early childhood workforce, which includes an early care and education workforce resources webpage, monthly e-blasts and webinars with content unique to the early care and education workforce, and updated program guidance and information memoranda to early childhood grantees on how to use existing grant funds to advance the workforce.
In January, HHS also announced the award of nearly $300 million in Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five to 42 states, providing critical resources to support the early care and education system that families rely on, including the early childhood workforce that is that backbone of our economy and communities across the country.