Racial and ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity in early care and education (ECE) settings are emerging as critically important aspects of provider quality. As of 2012, nearly half of young children under age 5 were children of color and/or Hispanic, 22 percent spoke a language other than English at home,1 and 24 percent lived in immigrant households.2 Young children from a variety of racial and ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds benefit from culturally diverse experiences in the classroom, as well as experiences that support their households’ cultural background (Reid & Kagan, 2015).
This report presents a national portrait of center-based and home-based ECE teachers and caregivers from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). It describes the professional characteristics and motivations of teachers and caregivers working in center-based and home-based settings by race and Hispanic ethnicity, languages spoken, and nativity status.
Different patterns of professional characteristics emerged between teachers and caregivers from different demographic backgrounds. Teachers and caregivers who identified as a person of color, who spoke a language other than English or multiple languages with children, and/or who were born outside the United States had lower rates of bachelor’s degree attainment and were more likely to access continuing education and professional development opportunities than teachers and caregivers who identified as White, spoke only English with children, and/or who were born in the United States. In addition, motivations for working in the ECE field varied by racial and ethnic identity and languages spoken. A selection of key findings is presented below.
Source: Authors’ analysis of the 2012 NSECE center-based workforce survey public use data and the 2012 NSECE home-based provider survey public use data. Totals reflect the population of teachers and caregivers in each setting. Totals are rounded to the nearest 10.
*This category of non-Hispanic race includes anyone self-identifying as Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Other or Multi-Race.
Although the study is, overall, representative of ECE providers in the United States in 2012, small sample sizes for some subgroups yields limited precision (e.g., non-Hispanic other race,3 speaking a language other than English or Spanish). To further confirm the findings, future studies should replicate analyses with larger sample sizes and disaggregate racial and linguistic groups as possible. In addition, teachers and caregivers who were born outside the United States, those who identified as a person of color and/or Hispanic, and those who spoke a language other than English with children are each a diverse group in their own right, representing a multitude of racial and ethnic, linguistic, geographic, and cultural backgrounds. Although combined here due to sample size limitations, each unique subgroup may have distinct ECE professional characteristics and may require specific supports to promote their professional development.
This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.
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