Getting Ready for Quality: The Critical Importance of Developing and Supporting a Skilled, Ethnically and Linguistically Diverse Early Childhood Workforce
This policy paper argues that maintaining and increasing the diversity of the early care and education workforce is critically important to attaining successful developmental and learning outcomes for America's increasingly diverse communities. Most school readiness efforts share an explicit commitment to reducing the disproportionately poor educational outcomes experienced by low-income and cultural and linguistic minority children and families. Programs need staff that can interact with children using the cultural orientations and spoken and written languages used in the home. Research shows that if teachers in early childhood settings can communicate with children in their home language, they are more likely to establish close secure relationships with the children in their care. An important challenge facing the field of early care and education is ensuring that its norms, practices, and policies respect and draw upon the languages, cultures, and contributions of children and families of other backgrounds. It is important for the workforce to have the knowledge, propensities, and language abilities necessary to form sincere and authentic bonds with children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and immigrant parents who are frequently unfamiliar with the norms of mainstream American society and institutions. To promote quality early care and education in diverse communities, policies should promote three goals: (1) redefine what is quality care and education in a culturally and linguistically diverse society; (2) promote diversity and inclusion of ethnic, cultural, and language diverse educators in the workforce; and (3) improve the working conditions and professional status for all early childhood educators.