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

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

Philanthropy can help cultivate effective leaders in early-childhood care and learning and advance the field by investing in leadership development that strengthens their skills, helps them build strong and lasting networks, and provides the financial support and flexibility they need to make their programs accessible, a report commissioned from Arabella Advisors by the New Venture Fund finds. Funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and based on in-depth interviews with a dozen leaders in the field, the report, Exploring Demand for Leadership Development Among Leaders in Early Childhood Care and Learning (12 pages, PDF), found that leaders face challenges in the areas of systems and policy such as the lack of financial and human resources to care for children with special needs and those experiencing poverty, trauma, and behavioral issues; lack of opportunity to inform policy with their on-the-ground expertise; and poor alignment between early-childhood education and K-12 curricula and disparities in staff compensation and school funding. Organizational and management challenges include inadequate technology for outcomes data collection and analysis as well as time management, staff coordination, and reporting, while workforce and career development issues include poor pipeline development for leadership succession, unclear paths for career advancement, and, burnout. The report's authors recommend that funders support cohort-based leadership development programs that meet between three and nine hours a week for at least six months; prioritize expanding access to programs by providing financial and other in-kind supports; investing in opportunities that are relevant to the systems, management, and workforce challenges that early childhood leaders face; and prioritize cross-sector learning and program sustainability.