Ideas and Impact

Exploring Demand for Leadership Development among Leaders in Early Childhood Care and Learning

Leaders in early childhood care and learning must become skilled at managing individuals and teams. Few have received formal training to develop these skills, but many eagerly seek the opportunity.

In 2018, the New Venture Fund and the Packard Foundation commissioned Arabella to review the leadership development landscape within the early childhood education (ECE) sector. In this follow-up research, we bridge our existing knowledge of the lacking “supply” of leadership development programs with a deeper understanding of the “demand.”

After convening a group of leaders from early childhood care, education, advocacy, and academia and connecting with their networks, we selected our sample group of 12 diverse leaders to interview for this report. We selected them if they fell into one or more of the following categories: 1) an experienced ECE classroom teacher new to leadership, 2) an experienced leader from another sector new to ECE, 3) an individual in line to assume an ECE leadership position, and 4) an external-facing policy or workforce advocate. 

We asked these 12 leaders to identify which challenges they believe are most critical to address, and their answers fell into three categories: 1) systems and policy, 2) organizational and management, and 3) workforce and career development. Further building on our 2018 report, these leaders prioritize skill-building in three categories: policy and community, operational and management, and team and interpersonal. The report concludes with key recommendations to build lasting change.

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