The first three years of life are the most rapid and critical period of development for a child’s brain. Research shows high-quality early childhood experiences help children prepare for school and have lifelong, positive effects and that teacher qualifications have an impact on quality.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is committed to ensuring early learners have access to vibrant and quality early learning environments and are prepared for their K-12 education. In December 2016, OSSE published updated child care licensing regulations that increased the education requirements for the early childhood workforce in the District. The education requirements apply to center directors, teachers, assistant teachers, expanded home caregivers, home caregivers and associate home caregivers in OSSE-licensed child development facilities. More information on why and how these education requirements were established can be found below.
Click here for information on specific requirements for each staff type, as well as resources and supports available for early childhood educators to meet the education requirement for their position.
Background and History
OSSE increased the minimum education requirements for the early childhood workforce with the goal to protect the health, safety and welfare of children in care and cultivate high-quality learning environments and experiences that nurture children’s learning. The education requirements included in the regulations support these goals by ensuring that all early childhood educators have training in child development and that those in lead teacher, expanded home caregiver and director roles have additional knowledge and skills necessary to create high-quality learning experiences for children and supervise other staff to deliver quality early learning programs.
The 2016 updates to the licensing regulations were developed in consultation with stakeholders representing the District’s diverse early learning sector and align with recommendations produced with the expertise of researchers, physicians and practitioners set forth in Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs.
Since publishing the regulations in 2016, OSSE has deferred the deadlines for early childhood educators to meet the education requirement for their staff type multiple times. This was initially done to give the workforce additional time to achieve credentials and further extended in recognition of the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On Dec. 2, 2022, the education requirement for center directors went into effect. Education requirements for all other staff types go into effect on Dec. 2, 2023.
OSSE has provided early childhood educators with resources and supports to meet the education requirements for several years. This includes the creation of the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Help Desk and launch of programs such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) Training and Preparation Program and the DC Leading Educators toward Advanced Degrees (DC LEAD) Program. More information on resources and supports for the early childhood workforce can be found here.