A well-trained workforce is essential to the delivery of high-quality early childhood programming that will prevent the achievement gap. For teachers and program administrators to effectively meet the diverse needs of children and families, they must be fluent in the latest research and strategies on child development and education. In an effective early childhood system, professionals have access to and funding for training, degree programs, and certification programs—all important tools that will equip them to help make a true impact in the lives of young children and families.
The Ounce of Prevention Fund is a leader in statewide efforts to ensure that Illinois has a well-qualified, culturally diverse, multilingual, and stable early childhood workforce. The Ounce works in collaboration with the Illinois Early Learning Council and advocates to identify and address the educational needs of the early childhood workforce, and to establish an integrated professional development system. Our own Illinois Birth to Three Institute is a vital part of this work.
To promote better training for early childhood professionals, the Ounce successfully advocated for legislation to obtain state funding for early childhood teacher preparation programs. We also helped launch Gateways to Opportunity, the statewide professional development web site. In 2009, the Ounce helped rollout the Illinois Infant-Toddler Credential, a voluntary credential for practitioners who work with children under age 3.