Preschool Upgrades Urged for California

By Linda Jacobson — August 29, 2006 1 min read

California needs to raise its standards for teachers in early-childhood education and for care providers working with young children, while also recruiting more college graduates to meet the field’s growing demand for professionals, a study on the state’s early-education workforce concludes.

According to the research, educational requirements vary greatly for those working in early-childhood programs, depending on whether they work in licensed family child-care homes, licensed centers, Head Start, or centers that contract with the state education department to provide preschool.

Teachers working in state-financed preschool centers are required to complete 16 credits of general education in college and 24 credits in early-childhood education. In contrast, several other states require two- or four-year college degrees.

Levels of education among California’s providers also vary throughout the state, with those working in the San Francisco Bay Area more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than those in other regions.

The “California Early Care and Education Workforce Study,” focusing on more than 37,000 licensed child-care homes and more than 8,700 licensed centers, was conducted between 2004 and 2006 by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

The “California Early Care and Education Workforce Study” is available from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment.

Commissioned by First 5 California—also known as the California Children and Families Commission—the report comes as state and county leaders are trying to expand preschool programs.

The study found that the state’s early-childhood teachers with more education were more likely to be older—at least age 50—and non-Hispanic whites. As a result, the authors recommend that officials work to attract “well-educated young candidates” into the field.

And while teachers in early-childhood programs are more ethnically and linguistically diverse than teachers in California’s K-12 schools overall, most center directors are non-Hispanic whites, and most assistant teachers are black and Hispanic.

A version of this article appeared in the August 30, 2006 edition of Education Week