Supporting Competencies of the Infant and Toddler Workforce: Case Studies of Competency Frameworks in Five States

Supporting Competencies of the Infant and Toddler Workforce: Case Studies of Competency Frameworks in Five States

OPRE Report #2023-069
Published: Feb 28, 2023
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associated Project

Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies (ITTCC)

Time frame: 2017-2023

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Andrea Mraz Esposito

Davis Straske

Tutrang Nguyen

Key Findings
  • Although all five states in the multicase study have taken steps to actively use their competency frameworks in ongoing efforts and innovations in online PD and training, as well as in some integration of competencies with state workforce development initiatives, the refinement of frameworks and processes surrounding them is ongoing.
  • The competency frameworks have resulted in increased PD opportunities for I/T teachers and caregivers through a broad range of training options, partnerships with higher education institutions, and ongoing supports using coaches and professional learning communities. However, the extent of participation and the effectiveness of different modes or combinations of modes for delivering PD is not yet clear.
  • In designing PD opportunities around competency frameworks, it is important to reduce burden for teachers and caregivers, particularly in terms of in terms of location, mode of training, cost, and timing.
  • Integration of competency frameworks throughout state early care and education systems can help reduce burden and promote use by increasing alignment of requirements and incentives throughout the ECE system.
  • There is a tension in balancing detail and specificity in the competencies within the frameworks with the need to have competency frameworks that feel accessible and easy to understand. It can be challenging to articulate individual competencies in a way that makes each seem attainable and easy to understand and observe while still ensuring the framework itself is not too overwhelming, especially when translated into requirements
  • There are still gaps in the development and implementation of competency-based assessment strategies and processes. There is limited information available about the reliability and validity of the competency-based assessments currently in use. Few states have the infrastructure and processes in place for directly assessing teacher/caregiver practice.
  • Currently, there is not enough information available to determine whether and to what extent competency frameworks improve teacher and caregiver practice or child outcomes.

To support the quality of care for infants and toddlers, states and organizations have developed competency frameworks to outline specific competencies (that is, knowledge, skills, and attributes) that are essential to the practice of teaching and caring for infants and toddlers. The Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies (ITTCC) project conducted in-depth case studies of competency frameworks implemented in five states to learn about the processes and practices that facilitate use of competency frameworks and how competencies in those frameworks are assessed.

This report provides a comprehensive picture of implementation of competency frameworks at the state level, from development to training and education, integration into ECE systems, use by programs, assessment, and monitoring and evaluation. The report also discusses broad lessons and key themes, based on the experiences of five states that represent a range of approaches to implementation.

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