Professional development training supports and strengthens the knowledge and skills of Minnesota’s child care and early education workforce, but barriers to professional development limit some providers’ access to and use of this resource. This study presents findings on the supply of and demand for professional development across Minnesota. We hope that these findings improve the field’s understanding of the opportunities and barriers faced by the child care and early education workforce in accessing training.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has a long history of supporting the professional development of the state’s child care and early education workforce. Minnesota’s current professional development training system was created in response to a session law passed by the Minnesota state legislature in 2007. From 2012 to 2016, the state received a Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant that supported the statewide expansion of Parent Aware, Minnesota’s Quality Rating Improvement System. Parent Aware includes standards related to workforce qualifications and coaching and training requirements for achieving quality ratings within the system. In addition, the state used funds to design and implement Develop – The Minnesota Quality Improvement and Registry Tool. Develop allows eligible programs to complete the Parent Aware application process and allows the workforce to participate in professional development activities.
To better understand how the current professional development training system, and specifically Develop, has been working for the child care and early education workforce, and to assess the supply of and demand for training across the state, Child Trends explored research questions about the workforce and trainers. Key findings include:
Most members of the child care and early education workforce, as well as professional development trainers, use Develop to some extent. Many workforce members and trainers who did not actively use Develop still identified it as one way that they either find or advertise trainings.
The child care and early education workforce considers Develop useful and easy to use. Family child care providers in particular identified Develop as a helpful tool for tracking professional development records.
Trainers sometimes use different venues to advertise professional development events than those commonly used by the workforce to search for training. Both the workforce and trainers commonly use Develop to either find or advertise training. Members of the workforce often reported searching for upcoming conferences sponsored by state and local early childhood education (ECE) organizations, and a modest number used social media. However, fewer than one in four trainers used social media to advertise training, and less than 5 percent reported using local ECE organizations.
Family child care providers and providers in rural areas face different barriers to accessing professional development trainings than center-based providers and providers in the seven-county metro area. Relative to center-based providers, family child care providers were more likely to report not taking training due to a lack of new or interesting training opportunities. In addition, rural providers were more likely than their metro peers to report their location as a barrier to accessing professional development trainings.
Family child care providers reported having more trouble than their center-based peers in completing the professional development requirements for licensing, credentialing, or other standards. Family child care providers were more likely to find it somewhat difficult to complete professional development requirements for licensing, accreditation, and early childhood credentials.
Center-based providers can often access training opportunities through their employers. Most center-based providers reported that their employer helped them find training opportunities and/or hosted training opportunities onsite. Child Care Aware districts often work with center directors to deliver free or low-cost onsite training, with funding support from DHS.