Examining the Associations Between Infant/Toddler Workforce Preparation, Program Quality and Child Outcomes: A Review of the Research Evidence

Children who have high-quality early education experiences are more likely to be successful in a variety of areas later in life (Burchinal, Roberts, Riggins Zeisel, Neebe, & Bryant, 2000; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2005). One of the factors associated with high-quality early care and education is the qualifications of teachers and caregivers working with young children (Ackerman, 2004; Burchinal et al., 2000). While there has been some examination of the characteristics of teachers and caregivers who foster positive early education experiences, and the relationship between teachers’ and caregivers’ education and the quality of the care children receive (Early, Bryant, Pianta, Clifford, Burchinal, Ritchie, Howes, et al., 2006; Early, Maxwell, Burchinal, Bender, Ebanks, Henry, et al., 2007; Mims, Scott-Little, Lower, Cassidy, & Hestenes, 2008; Vu, Jeon, & Howes, 2008), the evidence is limited. This is due, in part, to the large variation in teacher and caregiver preparation pathways and requirements, making it difficult to examine the specific effects of teacher education and credentials on teacher practice. Moreover, there is a dearth of evidence examining the qualifications of infant/toddler teachers and caregivers and their associations with program quality and child outcomes. This brief summarizes the findings from an evidence review conducted to address the research question: What evidence do we have from the research literature about associations between infant/toddler teacher and caregiver preparation (e.g., education, credentials, etc.) and improvements in quality and child outcomes?