What is a Career Pathway?
A career pathway is a way to represent the career, support, and training options available to professionals practicing in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) system. This tool, which is a part of the All In For Kansas Kids Strategic Plan (Goal 6), recognizes the importance of high-quality early childhood experiences for children, families, communities, and the state. The Career Pathway is a competency-based process that guides professionals in the field towards resources and opportunities to support their professional goals.
Why does it matter?
Growth and advancement are important considerations for any career. The Career Pathway for Kansas Early Childhood Care and Education Professionals is an optional resource which can help professionals identify steps they can take to ensure they have the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to fulfill their desired goals.
To make advancement more equitable and attainable, the Career Pathway brings together existing system offerings while creating multiple entry points. It illustrates the variety of professional learning opportunities and supports that make it easier to plan a fulfilling career.
Where does the Career Pathway fit?
The 2019 All in for Kansas Kids Needs Assessment revealed some of the ways the Kansas ECCE system is disjointed, especially when it comes to navigating professional development opportunities. The Career Pathway is the foundational tool that takes the many different puzzle pieces of a professional development system (i.e., education, training, and technical assistance) and puts them together as a cohesive picture ECCE professionals can utilize to achieve their career goals.
The Career Pathway intends to streamline access to, and the functionality of existing professional development opportunities, and illustrate to professionals how each opportunity relates to their specific professional goals. Some examples of existing professional development opportunities include those found on the Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities website, resources for completing the Child Development Associate CredentialTM (CDA), the Kansas Quality Network opportunities, and professional development offered by Child Care Aware of Kansas. The Career Pathway is a valuable tool for connecting ECCE professionals with opportunities that align with their career goals.
The Career Pathway creates an opportunity to inventory and align existing professional learning to the Kansas Core Competencies for Early Childhood and Youth Development Professionals as well as the Kansas Early Learning Standards. A diverse portfolio of learning opportunities that span subject areas and levels of mastery currently exists; however, the Career Pathway encourages a closer look at accessibility and availability of comprehensive learning opportunities, with special emphasis on ensuring there are opportunities for professionals to advance and build on prior learning in multiple ways. The goal is to continuously offer providers greater access to a wide range of opportunities to satisfy annual/in-service training that may be required by their workplace and also support individualized professional goals that facilitate movement along the Career Pathway. Existing subject matter experts will be mobilized to support ongoing curriculum development and instruction to assure robust offerings across the state.
The Early Childhood Professional Development Workforce Registry is a virtual commonplace for ECCE professionals to share their professional achievements. This online portfolio platform is for all ECCE professionals, and enables individuals to document their professional learning, credentials, certificates, degrees, endorsements, and experience in on place. Additionally, the workforce registry streamlines access to ongoing professional development opportunities, resources, and employment that align with each professional’s career goals, and provide rich data reporting elements related to overall workforce trends. The Career Pathway is a dynamic component of the workforce registry. When professionals create or update their professional profiles in the workforce registry, their place on the Career Pathway is updated as well, and they can easily see what professional development and employment opportunities are available to help them achieve their professional goals.
It is essential that efforts to recruit and retain a robust Early Childhood Care and Education workforce be coupled with sustained and meaningful financial investments to support higher wages, benefits, and incentives for access and achievement. Accomplishing this level of robust compensation reform will take time and the identification of new revenue streams. In the meantime, pandemic relief funding and other immediately available funding sources offer the opportunity to align financial incentives to the career pathway to support success; making one-time investments can result in short- and long-term impacts for the workforce and system. Incentives and wage supplements, even time limited, have the potential to create positive change on provider engagement, levels of education in the workforce, and quality of care.
KCCTO is excited for the opportunity to support the Career Pathway rollout in the state of Kansas. We believe that every child deserves exceptional care and that every early childhood professional in our state should have the resources to make that possible.
Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities (KCCTO)