New Research Finds Parents and Early Childhood Educators Coming Together On a Unified Message to Invest in High-Quality Early Childhood Education

Parents and educators of all political beliefs support a system of shared responsibility to finance high-quality early childhood education that prioritizes investments in the profession

WASHINGTON, DC – Results from new research released today by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) identify opportunities to ensure that parents and early childhood educators are on the same side of defining and demanding high-quality early childhood education. This research, conducted by a bipartisan team of FM3 and Public Opinion Strategies, and generously supported by the Richard W. Goldman Family Foundation, explores three critical and interrelated issues:

How parents and educators think about quality in early childhood education;

How and whether their understanding of quality influences their choice of an early learning program, either as a place for their children to be cared for and educated, or as a place of employment; and

How their personal stake in the issue of early childhood education translates to their appetite and capacity for civic participation that advances the issue.

“We know that families and early childhood educators support each other, and share a commitment to ensuring the best for children,” said Rhian Evans Allvin, NAEYC’s CEO. “Yet our underfunded system means that families and educators can sometimes find themselves on different sides of issues related to the balance of affordability, quality, and compensation in early childhood education. NAEYC is proud to present new data that delves deeper into these complex and longstanding issues, offering important lessons on messaging and advocacy related to our collective work to advance the profession and deliver on the promise of high-quality early childhood education.”  

Research results show that both parents and educators themselves consistently put teachers and staff at the top of their definitions of quality. Nine out of ten educators and six out of ten parents agree that quality means having teachers who “inspire the kids” and promote positive social and emotional development. Parents also recognize the need to support the educators who are supporting their children: 76 percent of parents consider having teachers who are well-compensated as being extremely or very important in choosing an early learning program for their child.

“This research demonstrates that parents understand quality, need convenience, and are constrained by affordability in making their child care and early learning choices,” said researcher Dave Metz, of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, or FM3. “Across political persuasions, parents feel a primary responsibility for supporting the care for their own children, but also look to federal, state, and local governments to contribute their fair share in order to capitalize on the well-known public benefits of investing in high-quality early childhood education.”

The research also demonstrated that, based in part on their understanding of the need for increased public funding, educators and parents are willing to “get involved in the political process and advocate” for expanding access to high-quality early childhood education. For educators in particular, the strongest messaging to promote engagement comes around the growing awareness of the impact of early learning; the respect that voters have for early childhood educators; and the need for educators to advocate for themselves instead of letting others do it for them—the precise purpose and vision of the collective Power to the Profession initiative.

To view the full results of this survey, visit the Advancing the Profession: Market Research section of this webpage on Power to the Profession.

Methodology

This research was conducted by bipartisan team of FM3 (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R). The online educator survey included 1,654 NAEYC members who work as educators serving children from birth to age 8, conducted February 15-27, 2017, with the demographics of survey respondents meant to broadly represent the NAEYC membership. The online parent survey included 1,202 parents of children up to age 16, conducted October 17-24, 2016, and demographic quotas were set to reflect the diversity of American parents.