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National Workforce Registry Alliance Blog post written by Dr. Kimberlee Belcher-Badal, Diana Diaz

Workforce registries are established and uniquely positioned to supply data on child care professionals, which inform compensation efforts and contribute to ACF’s Equity in Action goals.

Over the past 20 years Early Childhood Professional Registries, and state members of the National Workforce Registry Alliance (NWRA), built comprehensive data infrastructure. That effort is now best positioned to provide nearly real-time workforce data apprising and informing strategies to address equitable preparedness, including social and economic disparities, for Early Care and Education and the Out-of-School-Time professionals.

As a national non-profit membership organization, the NWRA manages internal and external state profiles, supplying crucial information on these efforts. These critical information points have helped highlight how the majority of these registries informed and supported their respective states with the utilization of stabilization grant funds to support compensation for the early childhood workforce during the pandemic. They will continue to provide critical infrastructure and data that play a fundamental role in these efforts beyond the pandemic as we work to solve the child-care supply crisis.

Too often, surveys and small groups reflecting specific learning communities speak on behalf of the actual workforce while representing just a fraction of it. Uncoupled from current workforce data that invites all members of the workforce, these conclusions ignore and fail to recognize the strong data infrastructure that already exists. We urge policymakers and researchers who truly champion the workforce to thoroughly examine and include registry data to make well-informed decisions how best to support the ECE workforce.

“Without a comprehensive workforce registry, Ohio would not have been able to quickly disseminate incentives to our early childhood and school-age workforce throughout the pandemic. Ohio’s data on our workforce has been used to prioritize COVID vaccinations, focus ‘hero pay’ stipends, along with assisting to disseminate more than $1 billion dollars in federal coronavirus and stabilization funds to early childhood and school-age programs and professionals, which has been a lifeline to providing child-care to our families.” 

Todd Barnhouse is the Chief Executive Officer, Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, the entity that owns and operates the Ohio Professional Registry.

Nationwide, there are 45 state registries operating with the capacity to inform strategies that reform compensation, preparation, and well-being for early care and education professionals. 

The NWRA strongly agrees with ACF in using a data-driven approach to support equitable planning and implementation.  The following “At-a-glance” data points demonstrate the robustness and quality of ECE workforce data stewarded by registry systems.

  • Workforce Registries: To date, 45 states have active ECE Professional Registries. Their collective, national reach today is over 1.8 million people in the ECE field. In 2020, nearly all registries (87%) reported that users could access their own data, and most registries (56%) said Program Directors could access elements of employee data.
  • Saturation and Participation: Over a third of the country, Child Care Licensing already requires workforce participation in their state’s registry. Many additional states have legislation being considered to do so. This indicator alone suggests those registries have high workforce data saturation and confidence levels regarding ECE Provider Data.
  • Services Support: Most states and DC, 65% of registries, require enrollment in a registry for anyone participating in federal or state-subsidized programs or services (i.e. TEACH, WAGE$, QRIS, Scholarship, Apprenticeship, etc.). At least 23 registries supported states with the implementation of ARPA stabilization funds by determining eligibility and/or distributing funds with their innovative systems. States such as OhioAlaska, and North Dakota , among others, relied on workforce registries to support ECE compensation efforts.
  • Wage and Salary Data: 30 state registries, reflecting 60% of the country, already collect wage and employment data for the workforce. Similar numbers of states collect and can disaggregate that data by languages spoken, race, and ethnicity, among other important demographics.
  • Verified Training and Education Data: 36 registries verify education and training data, representing over 70% of states and DC. Available data includes: highest education earned including credits in ECE or related subject areas, continuing education credits (CEUs), education progression, High School enrollment of current staff, aggregate training by competency category, and mode of training.
  • Large, Inclusive, & Longitudinal: For over a decade, member registries have been contributing to the NWRA aggregate workforce data to create the industry’s largest workforce dataset. The 2021 NWRA ECE Workforce Dataset represented over 466,000 people caring for children. With 14 of 17 eligible states participating, this makes it the largest cross-sectional dataset depicting the ECE workforce. In the 2021 workforce report, 56% of the aggregate ECE Workforce Dataset represented Family Child Care Providers. The dataset’s capacity would have been over 800,000 in 2022 if states who required registry participation had contributed their data.

“Let’s not reinvent or duplicate systems where infrastructure already exists. I do believe we are on the cusp of something that will mean further change for us, in our field, to make it easier for those who are doing the work on the carpet squares with children; and that is really exciting. That is human-centric, it’s the focal point of the work we are trying to do on behalf of the folks working with children and families every day.”

Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr. on the recent working partnership between The Council for Professional Recognition and the National Workforce Registry Alliance to improve the efficiency, accuracy, and support for credential applicants and workforce members navigating CDA credentials.

The early care and education workforce has already entrusted their data to their registries, with all the key elements we need to paint clear pictures reflecting their current and future needs. 

Workforce registries foster relationships with the workforce on a daily basis. They collect qualitative data in a variety of ways that deeply inform and support them in their work. Registry staff engages daily with early childhood professionals providing career advice and technical assistance, conducting focus groups to understand their needs, and facilitating access to training and coaching. This role, plus the additional functions they perform to strengthen professional development, situates them in a pivotal position to elevate and include the voices of the workforce in building equitable and supportive systems.

For anecdotal evidence, look at how The Aspire Registry in New York captured its story. It reflects the positive experiences of the workforce with their state registry over the past ten years. Collaboration and community-based, participatory research is at the heart of NWRA’s work.  We are collectively a community committed to human-centered design and to lifting up the registries and their powerful data, providing insights to inform workforce solutions.

“In a way, the registries are the closest thing that the child-care industry has to an emergency broadcast system. When there’s an emergency happening, and we need to be able to get in touch with the field immediately and quickly- it’s the registries that know where to find them.”

Dr. Walter Gilliam- Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at Yale University’s Child Study Center and Director of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy

The trust and collective wisdom that the workforce has placed in registries over the past 20 years and that state registries have placed in the NWRA is an enormous national asset. This unparalleled resource is being leveraged now more than ever to develop equitable systems and drive policy to ensure investments that directly affect our ECE professionals and the millions of children and families they serve.

With that in mind, we make the following recommendations:

  • National partners, researchers, and policymakers are called on to unite in collaboration with professional registries. This helps to ensure that all members of the workforce are counted, are well represented across settings, and are justly compensated using levers that already exist to drive economic and social well-being for all people caring for children.
  • Lift and engage the voices of the ECE workforce, and the data they entrusted to their workforce registries. This informs comprehensive policy, research, and strategies that improve compensation and equitable outcomes for all members of the early care and education workforce.
  • Utilize the proven and strong infrastructure that already exists. Registries optimize investments of time and funding, guiding innovations anchored in equity.
  • Leverage registries as the hub in professional development systems. Reinventing, undermining, or recreating systems in ways that remain siloed potentially harms the workforce who already navigate a multitude of isolated platforms.

Resources for States: 

The NWRA has developed tools to support ECE professional registries, in  wage data collection, career pathway development, and reporting with an equity lens. The NWRA, its staff, and leadership are committed to supporting states and ACF in supplying necessary data to inform workforce compensation and equity deliverables.

For questions, please contact director@registryalliance.org  or stateta@registryalliance.org.