PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential FAQ

This document provides responses to questions submitted to the panel discussion during the Quality Counts California (QCC) Higher Education Faculty Group quarterly meeting on June 3, 2022, regarding the proposed PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Credential. Responses in this document have been formulated by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and other education partners. This document is intended to provide information and bring clarity to common questions and concerns as part of the collaborative work to create a path forward. All responses are current as of June 10, 2022. Please note that the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential is still in development and must first be approved by both the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the Office of Administrative Law before its requirements are finalized and it is available. The FAQ document is available to help support this effort.

Child Development Permit Overview

California has a multiple level Child Development Permit authorizing services in the care, development, and education of young children in a variety of settings. Each permit level has its own requirements and options for meeting these requirements. The Child Development Permit structure serves as a career ladder so that permit holders can progress towards higher levels of the permit over the course of their career in early childhood education. 

Child Development Permit Information and Resources

Child Development Permits Data Dashboard

The Child Development Permits Data Dashboard provides information on child development permits issued in the last five years.

Reframing Preparation for the Early Childhood Workforce

California has been working over the past six years on several foundational activities to reframe the preparation of the early childhood workforce from a system now largely based on seat time and units to a competency-based system of preparation, assessment, and licensure leading to sustained professional growth and development of the trajectory of an early childhood educator’s career.

As part of this work, the Commission has developed several significant pieces of supporting infrastructure, including the development and adoption of Child Development Permit job-role based candidate competencies, or “Early Childhood Education Teaching Performance Expectations” and a set of standards for preparation program quality known as the “ Early Childhood Preparation Program Guidelines (April 2019).” Under the auspices of the Preschool Development Grant-Renewal (PDG-R) funding, the Commission is also working to develop a new ECE Teaching Performance Assessment for formative use with permit candidates completing an ECE preparation program at the Teacher level of the permit, and a new Program Quality Peer Review process to replace the current transcript-based licensure process.  For further information on this work, see the description of the PDG-R grant in the following section.

Child Development PDG-R Grant Activities

The Commission was invited in 2019 to join the state’s successful federal Preschool Development Grant-Renewal (PDG-R) application as a partner in the renewal grant. Initially received three years ago by the California Department of Education, the Preschool Development Grant-Renewal provides an additional three-year opportunity for the state to focuses on preparation, professional development and advancement for the early care and education workforce.

The Commission’s focus and role within the PDG-R grant is a $3 million effort from 2020-2022 to (1) promote the implementation of the ECE TPEs and the Program Guidelines through outreach and technical assistance to ECE preparation programs and program sponsors, (2) to develop and pilot a formative TPE-based Teaching Performance Assessment for the Teacher level of the permit, and (3) to develop and pilot a new ECE program Quality Peer Review Process. The ECE Teaching Performance Assessment  will initially be for formative use in the field as programs become more familiar with TPE-based performance-oriented candidate assessments embedded within the program’s coursework and fieldwork/practicum experiences. The activities under the PDG-R grant, including working with the field within the context of the four ECE pilots described below, will take several years to implement and complete.

Pilot Activities and Opportunities for ECE Workforce Preparation Programs

Four distinct pilot opportunities are available under the auspices of the PDG-R grant for interested two-and four-year institution of higher education that offer preparation for the ECE workforce. The pilots will be operational during the PDG-R grant funded period of July 1, 2020-December 31, 2022. For those institutions interested in applying to be a part of the Pilots, applications are available (Application to participate in the ECE Pilots). The four pilots are:

1. TPEs implementation pilot
2. Program Guidelines (accreditation) pilot
3. ECE formative Teaching Performance Assessment pilot
4. Program Quality Peer Review

Because of the interrelated nature of the first two pilots, institutions choosing to participate in pilot 1 must also participate in pilot 2. The expectations and obligations for participating in any of the pilots are outlined in the Pilots Guidance Document. Pilot participation is voluntary on the part of individual institutions and programs. The ECE pilots include participants currently represent 59 institutions of higher education, including both two-year community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. Our participating institutions represent the full range of California higher education segments preparing the early childhood workforce: California Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California, and Independent California Colleges and Universities.

Design Team for Development of the new ECE Teaching Performance Assessment (Pilot 3) 

The Design Team for the new ECE Teaching Performance Assessment was appointed by the Commission’s Executive Director in January 2021 and had its first meeting on March 2021. The Design Team will be meeting monthly for a period of at least two years to develop and pilot a new ECE formative Teaching Performance Assessment based on the adopted Teaching Performance Expectations for candidates for the Teacher level of the Child Development Permit.  When the new assessment is ready for initial piloting with candidates, all higher education institutions preparing the ECE workforce will be invited to participate in the pilot activities. 

Design Team for Development of the new ECE Program Quality Peer Review Process (Pilot 4)

The Design Team for the new ECE Program Quality Peer Review Process was appointed by the Commission’s Executive Director in January 2021 and held its first meeting on February 2021. The Design Team has drafted a proposed Program Quality Peer Review process that blends a supportive collegial inquiry group process with a more formal program approval (accreditation) process. The work of the Program Quality Peer Review Team is being presented for information at the August 5-6, 2021, Commission meeting and it is intended that the new process will be piloted during winter-spring 2022.  

Informational Webinars for the Field About the ECE Work and the ECE Pilots

Informational webinars about the Commission's ECE work were presented and discussed with the field via a series of six webinars. The webinars can be access through the links below:

  • Introduction to the webinar series
  • Overview of the PDG-R grant and activities
  • Introduction to the Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) and the Program Guidelines, and to their role in educator preparation

ECE Webinar 1: Presentation Slides
Watch Recorded Webinar 1

  • Information on TPEs and Program Guidelines implementation pilot

ECE Webinar 2: Presentation Slides
ECE Pilots Guidance Document
Watch Recorded Webinar 2
Q & A Document ECE Webinar 2

  • Introduction to Performance Assessment
  • Overview of the development process for an ECE Teaching Performance Assessment

ECE Webinar 3: Presentation Slides
Watch Recorded Webinar 3

  • Putting the Pieces Together

ECE Webinar 4: Presentation Slides
Watch Recorded Webinar 4

  • Walkthrough of the application process, expectations, and completion of Appendices A, B, and C for Pilot 1

ECE Webinar 5: Presentation Slides
Draft CAP Coursework TPE Map
Watch Recorded Webinar 5

  • Program Quality Peer Review

ECE Webinar 6: Presentation Slides
Watch Recorded Webinar 6

The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care

California’s new Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, published in December 2020, provides a new statewide direction for developing and supporting the ECE wrokforce. The Master Plan includes a framework and implementation plan to realize the vision of ensuring that all California children thrive physically, emotionally, and educationally in their early years through access to high-quality early learning and care resources; equitable opportunities for the workforce that advance equitable outcomes for children; and greater efficiencies to the state today and every day through structures for continuous improvement. The Commission’s work under the PDG-R grant is consistent with the vision and direction embodied in the Master Plan. 

UPK Teacher Pipeline Resource Compendium

The Resource Compendium provides summaries of the key investments and policy changes included in the 2021–22 State Budget that support the professional development and recruitment of the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), Transitional Kindergarten (TK), and Kindergarten workforce. These investments can be leveraged to serve the goal of building a highly qualified, culturally, and linguistically diverse early education workforce. Several of these investments highlight the opportunities to utilize funds for activities specifically designed to support diversifying the workforce—for example, the Teacher Residency Grant Program and the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program.

Bimonthly P-3 Newsletter Available from the California Department of Education

The California Department of Education provides bimonthly newsletters that share information on department news related to the CDE’s P-3 initiative, and include new resources and funding opportunities, spotlights on local P-3 implementation in action, and information on upcoming and recent P-3 related events. Please note that partner content is not endorsed by the CDE.

To subscribe to the CDE’s P-3 listserve, email “subscribe” to

Communications with the Field

The Commission offers multiple ways for the field to contact staff and to stay in touch with ECE-related news, events, and activities. Communication links include:

Subscribe to the ECE News List

Information from the Professional Services Division regarding the Child Development Permit and the work under the Preschool Development Grant-Renewal relating to the ECE TPEs, Program Guidelines, formative Teaching Performance Assessment, and Peer Review Process pilots is provided through ECE News Updates. Please Subscribe to the ECE News to receive these updates.
The previous ECE News Updates are provided here for reference:

ECE News May 2023

ECE News April 2023

Contact Commission staff via the ECE Mailbox 

The mailbox is for general questions about child development permit preparation programs and activities relating to the Preschool Development Grant.-Renewal. For questions about permit requirements and applying for a Child Development Permit, please email

Take Advantage of ECE Office Hours

Commission staff have established office hours for the ECE stakeholder community. Office hours provide an opportunity when ECE staff will be available to respond to questions, comments, and other informational needs.  ECE office hours will be held from 12-1 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month. Here is the zoom link for accessing ECE office hours on the first Tuesday and the zoom link for the third Tuesday. 

Early Childhood Education COVID-19 Related Flexibilities (August 2020)

  • Flexibilities and improvements previously enacted or in process

In August 2020, the Commission endorsed flexibilities and improvements to help candidates and programs that prepare candidates for the Child Development Permit as follows:

  1. Accept electronic transcripts for Child Development (CD) Permit applications in addition to paper transcripts. This is already possible if transmitted directly to the CTC. Information will be released in coming months as regulations are submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for approval.
  2. Provide flexibility for programs offering the 3-unit supervised field experience to use a variety of implementation options to accommodate current COVID-19-related conditions in the field. This approach would be consistent with current Title 5 regulations, which only require this to be instruction in an ECE or CD setting, and be supervised by an instructor, and be three semester units or more. This is within the purview of ECE preparation programs. It would be advantageous to leave the options flexible and not specified at this time so that programs have maximum flexibility to use whatever approaches/combinations of approaches best meet local contexts.
  3. Translate and make the CD Permit application form available in Spanish. Commission staff have provided a Spanish version of the credential application form and instructions (Including the child Development Permit) on the Commission’s website.
  4. Establish an extension of time after expiration of the permit for renewal – i.e., a grace period. COVID-19 extensions were approved at the April 2020 Commission meeting.
  5. Provide video and webinar updates on COVID-19 permit provisions on the Child Development Training Consortium (CDTC) and CTC sites. Commission staff have planned a series of five update webinars for ECE preparation programs; information is posted on this ECE webpage. Staff will post any ECE flexibilities adopted by the Commission on the Commission’s website.
  6. Modify observation hours for practicum classes during COVID-19 to include specialized (intentional) online content for program participants that are in a 100% distance learning model (and not able to engage face to face with children). ECE preparation programs already have the authority to structure their coursework and fieldwork appropriately to meet local contexts and needs. Regulations do not have required observation hours.
  7. Add Zoom or phone assistance for application completion and multi-lingual support. Phone support can be provided on request, however, assistance with application completion is within the purview of preparation programs
  • Additional flexibilities enacted by the Commission August 202

The Commission also adopted the following additional flexibilities at the August 2020 meeting:

  1. Allowing ECE preparation programs that are participating in piloting the implementation of the TPEs and the Program Guidelines to directly recommend candidates via paper application for the CD Permit (similar to the current Verification of Completion/VOC process), for as long as the programs are participating in the pilot, and until such time as a new program review and approval process is developed and in place. The Commission has the authority to do this based on Commission action and regulatory authority.
  2. Allowing ECE preparation programs that have earned NAEYC accreditation to directly recommend candidates via paper application for the Permit. The Commission has the authority to do this based on Commission action and regulatory authority.
  3. Adding a Waiver process for Child Development Permits. The Commission has agreed to consider approving LEA employer-requested waivers for ECE candidates, providing additional time to meet requirements for the permit. 

Child Development Permit Advisory Panel (2015-2017)

Child Development Permit Advisory Panel (2015-2017)

The Child Development Permit Matrix currently focuses on the number of units that are offered by an entity with regional accreditation rather than on candidates completing a defined program of organized developmental coursework leading to the development and demonstration of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the job role of the new permit candidate or current permit holder advancing on the permit career ladder.

Pursuant to Senate Bill 858 (Chap. 32, Stats. 2014) the Commission has convened the Child Development Permit Advisory Panel (CDP AP) to review and update, if appropriate, its requirements for issuance and renewal of permits authorizing service in the care, development, instruction, and supervision of children in care and development programs and the programs that serve them. The work of the panel must be completed on or before July 1, 2016.

The work of the panel will be guided by the following three questions:

  1. What is the scope of knowledge and skill needed to work in ECE positions that require a Child Development Permit?
  2. How should the current permit structure be modified to ensure that ECE teachers and administrators are adequately prepared to work in this sector?
  3. How can the State best monitor and ensure quality in preparation of the ECE workforce?

In March 2015 an application process was opened for early childhood education and child development professionals interested in participating on the panel. The Commission received over 100 submissions from interested individuals. Twenty panelists were selected to represent the scope and diversity of early child care and education across the state and across all sectors of the system, from 4-year and community colleges preparing those who serve, to county and district offices of education administering programs and educators working in the classrooms. Click hereOpen PDF in current window. to view the chart of panelists and state agency liaisons.

Agenda items framing the work of the panel were presented to the Commission at its August 2014 and  June 2015 meetings.

Meetings of the Child Development Permit Advisory Panel

DateAgenda | MinutesAdditional Materials
August 10-11, 2015Agenda | MinutesChild Development Permit (CDP)
Curriculum Alignment Project (CAP)
CAP Powerpoint
October 13-14, 2015Agenda | Minutes 
November 9-10, 2015Agenda | MinutesEarly Childhood Credential Types
Child Development Permits Issued from 2010-2014
December 14-15, 2015Agenda | Minutes 
May 5-6, 2016Agenda | MinutesDRAFT ECE Competencies based on National Competencies
DRAFT Preparation Standards for the ECE Permit - Teacher Level
DRAFT Performance Expectations for the ECE Permit - Teacher Level
September 23, 2016Agenda | MinutesMatrix Update from June 2016 Commission agenda item 2E
Options for Implementing Potential ECE Program Quality Standards
January 9, 2017Agenda | Minutes (Draft)Survey I: Permit Matrix results
Survey I: Permit Matrix comments analysis
Survey II: Performance Expectations results
Survey II: Performance Expectations comments analysis (individual)
Survey II: Performance Expectations comments analysis (general)
Survey III: Program Standards results
Survey III: Program Standards comments analysis

Updated August 10, 2023