Every early learning professional in Washington has diverse strengths rooted in their unique culture, heritage, language, beliefs, and circumstances. Professional development that supports the full participation of every early learning professional builds on these strengths by fostering a sense of belonging and supporting positive professional relationships. The Culturally Responsive Guidelines reflect the importance of diversity in the early learning field. Included is the understanding and commitment to build on adult learning principles and the best practices that adults learn within the context of their culture.
Section 13.3 parts a and b of the Early Start Act, passed by the Legislature on July 6, 2015, charged the Department of Early Learning with recommending guidelines to guide early learning professional training.
ESA Section 13.3
(a) The department shall review available research and best practices literature on cultural competency in early learning settings. The department shall review the K-12 components for cultural competency developed by the professional educator standards board and identify components appropriate for early learning professional development.
(b) By July 31, 2016, the department shall provide recommendations to the appropriate committees of the legislature and the early learning advisory council on research-based cultural competency standards for early learning professional training.
To address the above Legislative charges the Department of Early Learning (DEL) convened a Professional Development Cultural Considerations Workgroup (Workgroup). Due to the nature of the task, the invitation to join the Workgroup was sent to community organizations and experts with an emphasis on those knowledgeable in the Department of Early Learning’s professional development work and Washington’s early learning Racial Equity Theory of Change.
Findings and Recommendations
After a review of current research and existing resources, such as the Head Start Multicultural Principles, the Workgroup considered the structure of professional development at the DEL. Although many DEL professional development guiding documents discuss culture, there is little agreement on the focus areas in these documents. Based on these considerations, the Workgroup recommended the creation of a guiding document with common principles to guide the discussion and implementation of cultural responsiveness.
They further recommended that these guidelines not be an additional stand-alone document, but rather the concepts should be woven into existing documents and work. To support that goal, the Culturally Responsive Guidelines for Professional Development were developed to provide a framework to strengthen the cultural responsiveness in the training, competencies, and standards for early learning professional development.
The Guidelines will:
- Serve as a statewide resource for everyone involved in professional development of early childhood educators by providing expectations for professional development creation, delivery, and evaluation.
- Outline essential information to enhance the cultural responsiveness of professional development in Washington State.
- Provide a lens for the continuous quality improvement of the professional development system and professional competencies.
Please find the guidelines here: The Culturally Responsive Guidelines.