Professional Development

Professional Development Systems

Professional development refers to the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills that relate to one's job, duties, or career path. It encompasses all types of learning opportunities, ranging from formal coursework in college, workshops, and conferences to more informal learning opportunities set in practice.

Professional development systems provide consistent and uniform standards for early childhood education (ECE) programs and guide implementation of high-quality services for all children. The systems are designed to work across all sectors of private and public early education and care. Comprehensive systems address many areas of requirements and standards.

Standards and requirements may include registries, alliances, quality ratings, and credentialing and licensing requirements. They inform the nature and scope of professional development at the national, state, territory, and local levels. A sustainable system for professional development motivates achieving excellence in early childhood programs for all young children. Most states have their own professional development systems.

The Office of Head Start (OHS) has prioritized strengthening the early childhood birth to 5 workforce as one of its goals. Professional development systems promote coordinated and effective learning paths that help realize this goal for the early childhood workforce. Such systems guide and inform the foundation for staff and individual career development. OHS believes that, as required by the Head Start Act, a minimum of 15 clock hours of professional development per year is key for all program staff members who support the progress of children’s development.

Find the tools and resources in this section that may be most useful for T/TA providers; state collaboration directors; consultants; early childhood educators; child care administrators; policy makers; licensing and credentialing agencies; and leaders in the ECE field.

Aspects of Professional Development Systems