Early Childhood Education Competencies

The California Early Childhood Education (ECE) Competencies provide a solid structure to grow the professional development of our state’s early childhood workforce.

What is the purpose of the ECE Competencies?

The ECE Competencies were established for the following primary purposes:

  • Provide a coherent structure and content to foster the professional development of California’s early childhood workforce.
  • Inform the classroom materials that early childhood educators study in higher education.
  • Make clear the guidelines for ECE credentials and certifications.
  • Provide comprehensive descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that early childhood educators need to support young children’s learning and development.

What are the ECE Competencies?

The responsiveness of early childhood educators to the social, emotional, and physical needs of young children greatly influences the children’s development and learning. The ECE Competencies offer guidelines to ensure high-quality early care and education practices. There are 12 areas outlined in the system:

1) Child Development and Learning:

addresses the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that early childhood educators are expected to have regarding the development and learning of young children—and which in many ways provide the foundation for sensitive, responsive caregiving and high-quality early childhood practice.

2) Culture, Diversity, and Equity:

underscores the concept that there is no knowledge base, skill set, teaching practice, or curriculum for early development and learning that can be applied for all children.

3) Relationships, Interactions, and Guidance:

describes the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that early childhood educators are expected to demonstrate in their relationships and communication with young children.

4) Family and Community Engagement:

addresses competencies related to the role of the family in the care and education of the child, and the role of the community in providing resources and services to children, their families, and programs.

5) Dual-Language Development:

knowledge and skills to support the optimal development and learning of young dual-language learners and the relatively small number of young children who learn more than two languages.

6) Observation, Screening, Assessment, and Documentation:

knowledge and skills that early childhood educators need in order to conduct responsible, ethical, and effective observation, screening, and assessment of young children and the identification of special needs.

7) Special Needs and Inclusion:

promotes the importance of creating inclusive early care and education settings, this competency area addresses the knowledge and skills that early childhood educators are expected to have to foster the learning and development of young children with disabilities or other special needs.

8) Learning Environments and Curriculum:

focuses on the design of the early education learning environment in centers and family child care homes. It also covers the interactions and experiences that are intended to facilitate learning and development for all children.

9) Health, Safety, and Nutrition:

addresses the knowledge and skills early childhood educators are expected to have to support children’s physical, emotional, and mental health.

10) Leadership in Early Childhood Education:

identifies knowledge, skills, and dispositions that early childhood educators need to understand the complex policies and services that constitute and shape the early care and education system; the individual roles and opportunities within the system to motivate and cultivate others to take leadership roles and responsibilities; their own participation as leaders; and their organizations’ roles and opportunities in the context of larger public and private systems in which their programs reside.

11) Professionalism:

describes in greater detail ethical standards and professional guidelines, professional development and reflective practice, advocacy, and collaborative partnerships.

12) Administration and Supervision:

the knowledge and skills that early childhood educators are expected to have in operations and program development, fiscal management, human resources, and other aspects of administration.

What are the benefits of the ECE Competencies?

The ECE Competencies promote the development of skillful, knowledgeable educators and administrators who are committed to making high-quality early care and education services available to all young children and their families. The vital relationships between educators and children are formed in the daily routines and activities of infant, toddler and preschool settings. The competencies needed to support, plan, and guide children’s early learning and development are crucial as educators who work directly with young children are doing the most important work of their profession.

How does Quality Start utilize the ECE Competencies?

Participants deepen their professional knowledge by using the California Early Childhood Educator Competencies as an action plan for professional development. Through training programs, participants have practiced self-assessment and reflective dialogue to plan and position themselves within the context of each competency area. The ECE Competencies are at work in the classroom and child care setting where QSSB educators demonstrate a higher level of care that encompasses education, nutrition, socialization and family support. Participants who successfully develop and perform these ECE Competencies are more prepared to care for a wide range of children across different ages, abilities and social economic backgrounds.

Learn more about the ECE Competencies here.

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