The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care’s Professional Qualifications Registry, which was launched in June, is well on its way to providing critical information about the composition and status of the early childhood workforce. As of the end of September, EEC reports, more than 23,600 early and out-of-school-time educators have signed up for the registry. Of these, almost 16,000 had completed their online profiles and another 7,500 are pending completion. In addition, 43% (1,377) of the state’s 3,100 large group and school-age license holders had listed their staffs.
The registry, EEC states on its website, “will gather important information on the size, composition, education, and experience of our current workforce. It will store information about the retention and turnover of educators working in early education and care and out-of-school time programs. This information will help EEC build a workforce development system that responds to the needs of all educators and programs in Massachusetts.” The quality of teaching is a key determinant of program quality, making the professional development of the early childhood workforce is a critical building block for a statewide system of high-quality early education and care.
Early childhood and out-of-school-time educators working in EEC- licensed settings are required to register. Although the initial deadline was September 1, almost 800 registrations a week came in during the month of September. According to a February 2010 issue brief from the National Governors Association, Massachusetts is one of 32 states with professional registries for early educators.
In my recent interview with EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins, she stressed the importance of the registry.
“It is necessary for the state to understand the workforce,” Killins said. “Work history, salary and benefits. Those are important if we want to deal with the compensation issue and linking it to education. The sooner we get the information, the sooner we can talk about the whole field. We’re preparing for the budget. Wouldn’t it be great to talk about the benchmark of where we want to be and where we are?”