Policy brief

Training and Retaining Early Care and Education Staff

Bay Area Childcare Retention Incentive Programs Evaluation—Year One Progress Report, 2001–02
Margaret Bridges
University of California, Berkeley
Jennifer Carlat
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce


Nationally, more than half of children under the age of five are in nonparental care while their parents work. Research indicates that children benefit from being with well-trained, consistent early care and education (ECE) staff. Sensitive and responsive caregiving—characteristic of staff with a high level of training in child development—is associated with children’s positive cognitive, social, and emotional development. Staff retention is crucial, as frequent turnover impedes the formation of these positive, nurturing relationships and their benefits to children. However, there is evidence of an educationally bifurcated workforce, clustered between those who have high levels of training and those who have little. Furthermore, in both groups, the rates of turnover are high; estimates range from 20% to 42% annually.

First 5 California Children and Families Commission (First 5 California), local First 5 Commissions, and many counties have made a commitment to improving the quality of services for young children by increasing the retention and training of ECE staff. Specifically, they have funded the Childcare Retention Incentive (CRI).

First 5 California funded an evaluation designed by PACE to examine the efficacy of CRI interventions in San Francisco and Alameda counties (hereinafter referred to as the Bay Area CRI programs). Specifically, the evaluation assesses how CRI programs affect the training and retention levels of participating ECE staff by comparing them to those of nonparticipating staff in San Mateo, the comparison county.

This progress report summarizes findings from 2000–01, the first year of the Alameda Child Development Corps (CDC) and San Francisco CARES (SF CARES).

Preliminary data addressing the following research questions will be presented in this report:

  • Who is participating in Year One of the Bay Area CRI programs?

  • In Year One, are CRI recipients more likely than other ECE staff to participate in training and professional development?

  • In Year One, are CRI recipients more likely than other ECE staff to be retained (to stay in their centers and the ECE field)?

This evaluation, running from July 2000 to October 2003, started shortly after the first stipends were distributed in the CRI programs in Alameda and San Francisco. Survey data were collected twice, approximately one year following stipend awards in 2001, and again in 2002. Because the survey assesses whether or not CRI recipients are completing coursework and being retained, a substantial time lag—approximately one year—between stipend receipt and data collection is optimal. This progress report includes the first wave of data collection (2001) only. The final report analyzing all evaluation data will be completed in spring 2003.

Suggested citationBridges, M., & Carlat, J. (2003, February). Training and retaining early care and education staff: Bay Area Childcare Retention Incentive programs evaluation: Year one progress report, 2001–02 [Policy brief]. Policy Analysis for California Education. https://edpolicyinca.org/publications/training-and-retaining-early-care-and-education-staff