Professional Registries

What is an Early Childhood Professional Registry?

In the childcare industry, we do not license professionals as we do in K-12 settings. Instead, we license programs or facilities; childcare professionals then register in their state’s Early Childhood (ECE) & Out-of-School-Time (OST) Professional Registry. That entry point to the field serves to connect Early Learning Professionals to program licensing, professional development, quality initiatives, opportunities for growth, and professional advancement, as well as tracking and reporting their career progression over time.

An ECE Professional Registry is a Professional Development System’s backbone infrastructure and Early Childhood and Out-Of-School-Time workforce hub. It serves as a bi-directional information network reaching more than 1.8 million members of the workforce, through which Registries perform dozens of functions that provide:

  1. A trusted entry point and consistent, professional home for Early Childhood workforce members across the span of their career
  2. Placement of individuals on the state’s career pathway/ladder or lattice continuum that is informed by verified education, employment, and training
  3. Collection of comprehensive data about early childhood practitioners in a variety of roles, across settings, which can be disaggregated for equity and policy reporting (race/languages/ethnicity/zip code/etc.)
  4.  Central, longitudinal data repository tracking verified employment, training, and education
  5. Pathway recognizing and honoring professional experience, competencies, and achievements
  6. Tools illuminating the pathway for approved/recognized professional growth and development
  7. Quality framework recognizing and approving professional development and qualifications, based on the states state career level/licensing system
  8. Elevated workforce representation, perspectives, and data to equip policymakers and partners to make data-informed decisions and investments, set priorities, and track impact/ accountability.

Early Care & Education (ECE) and Out-of-School-Time (OST) Professional Registries are integral to data and professional development systems. They are designed to verify, securely store and track:
1) Demographic (race, languages, wage, SES)
2) Employment (current and past)
3) Preparation (training and education)
4) Specializations (credentials and certifications),
5) Professional Growth (career pathway progression, competencies, and service)
of ECE & OST teachers and providers. Professional registries across the country are designed to strengthen workforce preparation and exist to support, recognize, and represent those who care for children in ECE & OST care/education settings.

Registries are located evenly across three types of settings: state government, universities, or non-profit organizations. They have common functions and are uniquely built to support each state’s needs. Their collective underlying goal to create a single, statewide workforce support system with a record of ECE/OST employment, education, and training remain constant across the nation.

Workforce registries provide crucial infrastructure to the workforce and quality improvement initiatives across the country. Performing more than two dozen functions (12 common and 12 which vary by state) workforce registries:

  • Act as Hub for the Early Learning Workforce
  • Communicate, Connect, and Support Workforce Opportunities
  • Backbone Infrastructure for Professional Development Systems
  • Support Implementation of Licensed/Regulated Child Care
  • Track & Report on Workforce Development,
    Education, Training, Employment, and Recognition

Professional Registries contribute to quality in early care and learning by supporting the delivery system for quality experiences, the people who care for children.

Professional Registries contribute critical infrastructure for Career Pathway implementation, supporting both the workforce and Professional Development Systems. By addressing five core areas of workforce development, registries provide unparalleled workforce access, connections to support, and data. The data lifecycle registries make possible is first established through the functions and support they provide to states and workforce members. Bi-Directional information exchange is a critical element provided by trusted registries. Beyond providing a service to the industry as an Emergency Broadcast System, registries work to make workforce members aware of the professional opportunities for development and support that are available to them.

As a by-product of the more than two dozen functions registries perform, they are able to collect, track and report data about the workforce. This data is part the critical infrastructure registries provide to inform state policy makers, advocacy groups, and researchers. Registries use the data they have to create workforce reports, track progress and near-real time workforce needs. They can also partner with those seeking summary data to help examine and evaluate data elements for to inform future questions or policy analyses. This data can be leveraged to inform policy makers, funders, and advocates about what the workforce is most in need of, who to prioritize, and where to direct targeted support. One of the essential outcomes of this longitudinal data is that it also provides existing infrastructure to support data dashboards, profiles for progress, and accountability indicators.



As Professional Registries conduct Training and Trainer approval in most states (75% and 80%, respectively), they are committed to ensuring access to quality training and trainers. In 3 out of 4 registries, they review and verify professional records to place workforce members on career ladders or lattices. They also provide Training Calendars, manage registration, verify attendance, and produce Training Transcripts or Professional Learning Records to support credential applications. In many states they also provide employment verification and manage stipends, eligibility, and direct payment to workforce members.

Professional Registries are unique in that they are the primary interface with the largest consortium of Childcare and Out-of-school-time Workforce members in the industry (cutting across setting and role). Collectively they reach over 1.8 million people impacting the lives of children. In collaboration with their employers, registry staff work with field professionals to track, verify, and report their essential information. This process helps to surface workforce priorities, gaps in services, and inform equity efforts. In return, targeted support, reflecting the actual needs of the community they represent, are leveraged to strengthen improved access to services, announce new opportunities, and illuminate support for the professionals, in turn increasing the quality of experiences for children and families in their care.

*This example provides one state’s registry functions, source The ASPIRE Registry in New York. Each state has a similar menu of services they provide to the workforce, childcare licensing, quality improvement initiatives, and state professional development system.


Require Registration for Licensing

In 2023, there were 21 states who required Child Care Professionals to register for Child Care Licensing.

Require Registration for Quality Improvement Programs

In 2022, 38 states required Child Care Professionals to participate in the Registry to participate in Quality Improvement initiatives.

Registry Infrastructure – An Interconnected Network


Registry Data Entry & Verification

State Information

Register in your State's Professional Registry and access other local information, workforce data, and resources by visiting our state member profiles.


Registry Landscape 2024

Learn more about which registry functions, data element, and members/users your registry includes.


Focus on Registries

Find out the latest information about registries around the US.


Registry Infrastructure Brief

What do registries do and how their workforce data collection intersects with policy and support.