Child Trends to lead new HHS National Early Care and Education Workforce Center

February 9, 2023

Child Trends will lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) newly announced National Early Care and Education (ECE) Workforce Center, which will be supported by a $30 million grant over five years. The ECE Workforce Center will advance the recruitment and retention of a diverse, qualified, and effective ECE workforce through rigorous research and technical assistance.  

In addition to leading the entire effort, Child Trends—the nation’s leading nonpartisan research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives of children and youth—will direct the ECE Workforce Center’s operations and research efforts. Dr. Chrishana Lloyd—a Child Trends research scholar and a nationally recognized expert on the ECE workforce—will serve as the Center’s director of research. 

“Child Trends and our team of partners are thrilled to collaborate with ACF and to invest in the early care and education workforce, a critical facet of our country’s infrastructure,” Dr. Lloyd said. “Our aim is to strengthen early care and education systems, policies, and practices with equitable, innovative technical assistance and research so that the workforce, families, children, and the country thrive. We are grateful for HHS’ confidence bestowed upon us to lead this work, and we look forward to the charge.” 

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. 

“Despite the importance of the ECE workforce, our current system does not effectively support them personally or professionally,” said Dr. Kathryn Tout, Child Trends’ vice president for early childhood research. “The National ECE Workforce Center will elevate the needs and voices of the workforce in efforts to develop career advancement supports, increase compensation, and improve workplace policies, among other necessary changes.”  

The ECE Workforce Center is a collaborative 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—and by additional consultants in the partnership’s Learning through Action Consortium. The ECE Workforce Center’s work will span across ECE systems (e.g., states, communities, Tribes, and territories) and include ECE workforce members and families from different care settings.