CUNY’s Professional Development Institute Releases Landmark Early Childhood Workforce Study

September 30, 2007 | The University

A comprehensive system to assure proper training and education for those who work in New York City’s early-childhood centers is essential to assure that children become lifetime learners, according to a new report by the New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at The City University of New York.

The report, a collaboration of the Professional Development Institute and the Cornell University Early Childhood Program, is the first in-depth study of the city’s early-childhood workforce. (Go to www.earlychildhoodnyc.org for the full report.)

“Learning About the Workforce,” which focuses on the city’s community- and school-based early-childhood centers that educate children from birth to age 5, paints a portrait of a workforce that is educationally and ethically diverse and reveals substantial gaps in education, certification, professional development and compensation between teachers at school-based and community-based centers.

“This study is a blueprint for the city and state as we continue to plan and build a comprehensive system of training and professional development that supports high-quality services for all our city’s children and families,” says Professional Development Institute Executive Director Sherry M. Cleary.

According to the report, New York City’s early-childhood centers face a number of challenges, including serving a growing number of children for whom English is a second language and getting qualified professionals to enter and remain in the field.

The report’s key recommendations include:

• Greater efforts must be made to diversify and provide management and leadership training to the directors of early-childhood programs.
• Early-childhood professionals should have increased access to higher education, and new resources should be allocated for student-support services, scholarships, loan forgiveness and flexible study. Institutions of higher education like CUNY should find innovative ways of tailoring coursework, credentialing and certification.
• A comprehensive and sequential professional development system should be created to serve these diverse early-childhood professionals.
• Local finance experts should create an experimental model that addresses the critical problem of compensation levels in the field, and the city and state should continue to explore ways to increase educators’ pay.
• Enhanced training and support for children and teachers are needed to address the increasing numbers of children whose first language is not English.
• Further research on recruitment, job satisfaction and teacher retention is needed.

The New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute is a public/private partnership that brings together a range of city agencies, a consortium of private funders and the nation’s largest urban university to coordinate training and career development services for individuals who work with young children in New York City.

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university. CUNY comprises 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law at Queens College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 231,000 degree-credit students and 230,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 280 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. The University has launched an online baccalaureate degree through the School of Professional Studies, and a new Teacher Academy offering free tuition for highly motivated mathematics and science majors who seek teaching careers in the city.
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