Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kevin A. Yelvington, D.Phil.

Co-Major Professor

Iheoma U. Iruka, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Iheoma U. Iruka, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel H. Lende, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Walter R. Nord, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca K. Zarger, Ph.D.


critical anthropology, early care and education, early childhood workforce, policy, political economy, workforce development


Historically, the early childhood workforce has been described as undereducated, poor, and disproportionately comprised of women of color. The EDUCATE workforce development policy was designed to advance the professional development of under-paid and under-valued child care workers. This study focuses on the history, intent, and impact of this policy at the intersection between the grantees, the State, the various organizational contexts, and the broader structural forces. More broadly, complex issues and challenges related to the early childhood workforce are surfaced. Finally, through a critical analysis of the findings, the hidden and dominating forces that maintain the current level of inequity for the early childhood workforce are revealed. From an applied anthropological perspective, the findings from this study can inform the design, adjustment, and implementation of the EDUCATE workforce development policy, as well as other policies and practices at state, county, community college, and child care center levels.