The Nation’s Largest Cross-Sectional Data Set:
Reflecting the Early Learning Workforce
The collection of critical information reflecting the ECE workforce makes data-informed decision-making possible. These important snapshots contribute to how we conceptualize who is caring for young children and better understand what they most need. While data has always held value in decision making, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significance of access to this particular type of data for the purposes of stabilizing an industry, as well as the economy, and supporting the ECE workforce sector.
Data informing mechanisms also help us illustrates who is missing from our workforce picture, tell us if what we’re doing is working, and can direct where to prioritize future investments. Policymakers, members of the research community, change agents, and funders are looking for current, workforce information that illuminates how to mitigate staffing shortages, strengthen provider preparedness, and attend to caregiver well-being, while simultaneously taking stock of quality efforts. As it relates to accountability efforts, data allow us to better understand how that data changes over time and where support efforts have the greatest potential impact.
The NWRA workforce dataset is a pooled, de-identified data set created in collaboration with state registries. Eligible professional registries can contribute workforce data and supply information utilized to make informed decision-making possible. To become a state eligible to contribute workforce data, registries must complete a self-study, collecting and demonstrating a commitment to NWRA’s best practices, standards for quality, and uniform definitions. In 2020, 38 states and DC self-reported they were collecting workforce data. In 2021, 17 registries (45% of states collecting provider data) had met NWRA quality criteria for data collection. Of the 17 eligible, 14 participated in the 2021 workforce data report. As we look to future data reports, we believe state registries have the capacity in the near future to generate a workforce dataset inclusive of upward of 1 million members of our workforce.
Early Learning Workforce Data we collect and report:
Equity Informing Variables: languages spoken, race, and benefits
Professional Registries by Reporting Status:
States Collecting Early Learning Workforce Data (2020)
States with high data saturation, dark yellow states can contribute data to the NWRA workforce report (2020)
From just nine eligible states in 2009 to 17 eligible states in 2021,
our workforce dataset has grown by over 700% in the past decade to represent over 466,000 professionals in 2021.
In 2012, the organization developed a set of “Core Data Elements” for Early Childhood and School-Age Registries and the “Partnership Eligibility Review,” which became the NWRA’s quality assurance and registry peer recognition process. The Core Data Elements formed the basis of the Partnership Eligibility Review (PER) process. In 2022, with significant reflection, the NWRA began to consider additional levels to a spectrum of registry readiness related to Equity & Diversity. At that time, new levels of PER were considered and PER was re-branded to create a threshold level for states to meet for eligibility to contribute workforce data and partner with national entities. That level became known as “Partners in Employment Reporting (PER).” Additional levels are forthcoming, with dedicated efforts and intentionality places on data quality and additional commitments to equity informing data.
With PER, a regional or state registry undergoes a self-study and peer review process to ensure alignment of core data elements, data verification, and standard operating policies and processes recommended by the NWRA. Successful completion of the process enables a state registry to participate in data-sharing efforts with other national organizations. State registries meeting all the requirements are able to provide other national member organizations with training records from a single source, which are accepted by the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC), for example, in their accreditation process. NWRA member registries that meet PER standards enabled nine states and/or regions to contribute to the first NWRA Workforce Data Set in 2012. These data were de-identified, pooled and analyzed with high reliability; providing valuable information to the field.
Annual PER Data Reports occurred in 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021. Summaries of these analyses are found on our website.
- 2012, a total of 9 of 9 eligible registries contributed data from 1/1/10-3/1/12. That dataset included individual records from 58,398 professionals; 85% (49,740) of whom were currently employed across 12,050 programs and facilities.
- 2015, a total of 9of 9 eligible registries contributed data from 1/1/13-1/1/15. That dataset included individual records from 123,680 professionals; 90% (111,082) of whom were currently employed across 22,822 programs and facilities.
- 2017, a total of 11 of 11 eligible registries contributed data from 1/1/15-3/1/17. That dataset included individual records from 172,870 professionals; 92% (158,386) of whom were currently employed across 28,214 programs and facilities.
- 2019, a total of 14 of 15 eligible registries contributed data from 1/1/17-3/1/19. That dataset included individual records from 398,986 professionals; 85% (337,551) of whom were currently employed across 63,306 programs and facilities.
- 2021, a total of 14 of 17 eligible registries contributed data from 1/1/19-1/1/21. That dataset included individual records from 466,115 professionals; 77% (356,206) of whom were currently employed across 64,237 programs and facilities.
- 2023 a total of 17 states are eligible: we’re aiming for 23. That would help us reach our goal of having 50% of registries nationwide contributing data to growing our national data set. Currently, there are 10 states with high saturation not contributing to the dataset, that already require registry participation for childcare licensing in their state; with the addition of those 10 states and enhanced cleaning efforts, over the next five years, the NWRA dataset will represent over 800,000 members of the workforce.
2023 and Beyond
Current data does not reflect an additional 9 states who have high saturation due to requirements for registry participation in their state’s childcare licensing, but the registry has not yet completed the self-study, demonstrating they meet NWRA standards for quality to contribute data. This suggests the workforce data reach in the near future could as much as double in reporting. We are aiming for 23 states contributing data in 2023.
“We dream of a national workforce data set that can inform us about what is working, what is needed, and where to prioritize investments.”
The goal of the National Workforce Registry Alliance is to be the central hub of data collection and dissemination used to inform and strengthen the Early Care and Education Early Childhood and Afterschool Workforce through collaboration with state workforce registry systems and national partners.
Let’s consider what’s possible together, we can’t do alone…
Tailored workforce support, mirroring identified community needs
Integrated data systems, where data informs other data (i.e. demand, deserts, and child data, etc.)
APIs with states to the NWRA, making national data pooling easier, faster, accurate
More robust research partnerships
A true National Workforce Dataset
Bi-Directional Workforce Info Exchange (moving learning to and from the field)
How you can help:
Look for and leverage the biennial National Dataset composed of registry workforce data from eligible states.
Sponsor a state to help them gain recognition as a Partner in Employment Reporting and contribute their workforce data to the growing national dataset.
Partner with us to produce white papers, articles, and publications to highlight, inform, and strengthen early childhood workforce data collection efforts.
Our Latest Dataset is available soon
Look for the Executive Summary, available April 2022, and view all of our reports under our “Resources” tab.See Data Sets