Montana’s Early Childhood Educators: Recruiting and Retaining an Essential Workforce

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


Shifting realities across the world have emphasized the need to change early childhood systems thinking. Specifically, a quality early childhood workforce was in high demand before the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be in demand until sustainable recruitment and retention efforts are achieved. Encouraging more professionals to enter and stay in the field of early childhood education involves building an understanding of the current workforce through analyzing the influence of age, role, education, wages, and access to incentives on career motivation. In this case study, a rich description of Montana’s early childhood workforce is presented along with recommendations to strengthen the state’s early childhood workforce systems. Results of survey and focus group data collection and analysis confirmed the pervasive compensation disparity that exists in the early childhood workforce and revealed the need for financial incentives to pursue and attain higher education degrees to help ensure the delivery of quality early childhood education. Specific recommendations for policy change include sharing the data across other state systems and with other nations for the purpose of supporting the growth and development of the early childhood workforce in the United States and beyond.


This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:


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Lux, C., Noble, C., & Bird, N. R. (2022). Montana’s Early Childhood Educators: Recruiting and Retaining an Essential Workforce. Early childhood education journal, 1-10.
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