Pennsylvania’s Professional Development Organizations (PDOs) are working to change hearts and open minds through community engagement and professional development. Both PDOs are establishing plans to help develop their staff and partners’ ability to increase a sense of belonging and inclusion among all. These methods will help reduce bias, build on critical partnerships, and end assumptions that are dangerous and exclusionary. Still, these efforts alone are not enough. Data is an essential component to ensure the funding and prioritizing members of the early childhood education (ECE) workforce who have been most disenfranchised and are at greater risk of being left behind as the nation moves towards credentialing early childhood educators. This is one reason why it is critical the ECE workforce and providers ensure their PD Registry profiles are kept current and career pathway levels are assigned.
In addition to working on the ground to increase awareness of the barriers facing the early childhood workforce, PDOs are tasked with building more cohesive, inclusive career pathways that are accessible to all early all early childhood educators. This includes system-wide changes to exclusionary practices impacting the early childhood workforce. From coursework not aligning to the competencies science demonstrates that will maximize children’s early development and learning, to innovative solutions to college preparatory coursework or PRAXIS exams, PDOs are able to fund institutes of higher education (IHE) as they build methods to support early educators working in child care. Funding IHEs to design and implement practices, proven to lower barriers, assures availability of higher education options for working adults, infant-toddler educators, English second language learners, first generation college attendees, and other populations who have historically been underserved in the higher education landscape.
Pennsylvania is an extremely diverse state, both regionally and demographically, so a one size fits most solution is not what is needed. OCDEL is excited the ECE PDOs can play a pivotal role in this work due to their ability to support local communities in identifying and responding to the specific needs of the workforce in that zip code, neighborhood, or county.
For more information regarding how each PDO is ensuring equitable access in their regions check out PDO work plans. Available here: