HHS establishes new National Early Care and Education (ECE) Workforce Center

February 9, 2023

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), has announced the National Early Care and Education Workforce Center (ECE Workforce Center). HHS granted six core partner organizations a $30 million award over five years. The ECE Workforce Center will coordinate and provide technical assistance and rigorous research to advance the recruitment and retention of a diverse, qualified, and effective ECE workforce.

The ECE Workforce Center comes at a critical time for ECE workers and the country. The ECE workforce of 2 million people—nearly all of whom are women and, often, women of color or immigrants—plays an integral role in children’s health and development while providing an essential service to families. However, educators’ knowledge, skills, and well-being are undermined by fragmented funding and operating systems and by longstanding racial and gender inequities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal investment in the early care and education workforce is essential for addressing these issues and supporting a well-functioning economy. 

The ECE Workforce Center is designed to examine and address the need for fundamental changes to career advancement systems, compensation, and ECE workplace policies. The Center will work to advance change across the full range of ECE settings (e.g., family and center-based child care, Head Start), funding streams (e.g., Child Care and Development Fund, state-funded preschool, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and systems (e.g., states, communities, Tribes, and territories). 

To conduct this work, the ECE Workforce Center will be staffed by six core partners—BUILD Initiative, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, Child Trends, Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood at the University of Delaware, Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass Boston, and ZERO TO THREE. Child Trends will lead the ECE Workforce Center— specifically directing the new center’s research and operations efforts. Additional organizations will provide consultation support, including All Our Kin, Child Care Services Association, EDvance, National Association for Family Child Care, Early Care & Education Pathways to Success, Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies, Start Early, National Workforce Registry Alliance, and the Donahue Institute. The ECE Workforce Center will also include ECE educators who will advise the Center in its efforts to develop the innovations and improvements needed to reimagine and support a stronger ECE system.