The early childhood workforce is one of skill and passion, where professionals engage in work that is both complex and creative as they teach, care for and support the healthy development of young children across the country.
Oftentimes, this work is done amidst a backdrop of limited resources, inadequate compensation and other challenges that have only been exacerbated in recent years under the COVID-19 pandemic.
One such challenge recently came under the microscope: how can the ECE field build, recruit and retain a qualified workforce?
Studying Teacher Turnover and Retention
A newly proposed study by a collaborative research team from the University of Oklahoma Tulsa (OU) – local evaluation partner at Tulsa Educare – hopes to dig deeper into just that by examining what factors might influence teacher turnover and retention. With funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, OU researchers will take on an 18-month project on this topic., unpacking patterns, factors, mechanisms and outcomes related to why educators choose to stay in or leave the ECE field.
The study, developed by the OU Happy Teacher Project Team led by Dr. Kyong-Ah Kwon, is a joint effort between OU, the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) and the Educare Learning Network, and includes secondary analyses of Head Start data using Educare National Evaluation datasets. The team’s hope is for the study to make a significant impact on practices and policies to support the early childhood teacher workforce.
“We are really excited about OU’s new project and the potential it has for impacting the field,” says Noreen Yazejian, PhD, a senior research scientist at FPG, which is the Educare national evaluation partner. “The Educare National Evaluation dataset reflects the contributions of Educare children and families, staff, leaders, evaluators and funders, and we are thrilled that a team is able to use the data to answer important questions about the early care and education workforce to inform practices and policies to better support staff.”