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Childcare Training Requirements

At the core of a quality child care program lies the provider’s education and training.

Thus, many states require child care program directors or early learning teachers to have pre-service qualifications in early childhood care. This is a requirement where the specified education topics must be completed before operating in, working, or taking a new role in licensed child care programs.

The amount of training required varies from state to state. (Find information on the minimum training required by your state licensing agencies to qualify for childcare program roles here.)

The good news is; most state child care licensing agencies include numerous options to qualify for different roles, as well as well-stipulated procedures for evaluating qualifications of care providers seeking to operate or work in licensed child care centers.

Work experience

Besides pre-service education and training, many states require prospective child care staff to have prior experience working with children.

In some states, experience may be the only qualification for specific roles. (The amount of experience required varies from state to state, as per state’s child care licensing regulations.)

Generally, prospective program directors or teachers should prove their experience was:

  • With a particular age group of children
  • In a particular setting
  • Supervised

Ongoing training hours

Many states also require child care center directors, teachers, and other staff members to complete specified annual training hours.

The ongoing training is usually centered around the education and care of young children. And can be completed through different methods, like college courses, adult education courses, distance learning, conference workshops, and in-service training (as offered by the program’s director.)

(Your state’s child care licensing regulations should specify the number of hours of required ongoing training and any specifications for training content.)

Health and safety training

Child care staff should complete training in CPR and first aid, in addition to the covered preservice education requirements.

Many states also require training in the following health and safety topics.

  • Care of sick children
  • Fire safety
  • Hand washing
  • Administration of medication
  • Prevention and reporting of child abuse and neglect
  • Prevention of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne pathogens
  • Water safety (lifeguard training)
  • Prevention or curbing the spread of contagious diseases
  • Reducing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

Your state may also include training requirements on nutrition, child access to physical activities, and other child development classes. (Aimed at protecting children’s health and safety.)

Sample childcare training courses

to help meet the set health and safety requirements:

(To verify whether your training options are acceptable by your state licensing agencies, contact the state’s child care professional development lead.)

Federal requirements for program providers serving children receiving CCDF assistance

The CCDF Block Grant ACT 2014 requires all states to formulate health and safety training requirements covering the following topics:

  • Preventing food-related allergic reactions
  • Medication administration
  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases
  • Safe sleeping practices and reducing the risk of SIDS
  • Building and other physical premises safety
  • Emergency preparedness and response planning
  • Preventing and reporting abusive head trauma or Shaken Baby Syndrome
  • First aid and CPR
  • Handling and storage of hazardous materials
  • Transportation safety (if applicable)

Child Care Training for Teachers

Early childhood teachers specialize in the developmental, physical, social, and learning needs of children. In other words, they provide safe and comfortable environments for young children to learn motor, social, and adaptive skills. (With pre-kindergarten through third-grade tutors expected to teach math, science, and other core subjects.)

Child care program teachers should also provide activities or opportunities for structured & unstructured play. (As well as light meals/snacks during school days.) Hence, the need for specialized child care courses.

Training requirements

As mentioned, teaching children below eight years requires specialized skills.

Depending on the state and employer’s specifications, some early childhood teaching jobs need national certification. For example, the Council for Professional Recognition’s designation – the Child Development Associate, which requires:

  • High school education
  • Early childhood classes
  • Experience working with children (below eight years)

Or the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation certification – the Child Care Professional, which requires:

  • High school education, and
  • Work experience

By law, Head Start educators must have an associate degree in early childhood education (or development) covering the following:

  • Learning environment
  • Child behavior and development
  • Curriculum and parent-teacher relationships
  • And experience working with children below five years (in some instances)

Preschool tutors for public child care centers need a state teacher’s license in early childhood education. With its basic requirements being:

  • A bachelor’s degree in education, and
  • A passing score on a recognized certification exam

To be recognizable: the bachelor’s degree program must be approved by the state’s board of education for teacher preparation.

And typically covers:

  • Childhood development
  • Theories of learning
  • Methods of teaching young children

Previously licensed teachers or people who have earned any bachelor’s degree can also add an early childhood endorsement to their teaching certificate. They only need to complete a master’s course in early childhood development or education.

Of course, having a master’s degree in education or related advanced degree will improve your ability, job opportunities, and chances for career advancement. After all, the program helps you gain a deeper understanding of childhood learning and ii. develop more skillsets for working with children.

In the case of Montessori schools, teachers must also complete special Montessori educator programs.

In some states, educators must meet additional requirements, such as training in first aid and CPR. And fulfill the state’s ongoing training requirements to maintain their license.

Besides training, early childhood educators can build their careers through experience. (That is beginning as a teaching aid to garner practical classroom experience.)

Child Care Training for Directors

Behind the scenes, early childhood program directors perform multiple tasks – from safety and budgeting to staffing and enrollment. And everything in between.

Besides administrative tasks, these directors need to understand the development of their target age group and have hands-on teaching experience working with kids in the target age group. (Which calls for specialized training.)

To secure the position of a child care program director, therefore, you must attain the required training, education, and certification. (With earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or development providing the best foundation.)

That means striving to learn the following:

  • Health and safety
  • Child development
  • Nutrition of children (below eight years)
  • Early childhood education
  • Guidance and discipline
  • Creative expression and play
  • Early childhood learning curriculum

Most states require early childhood program directors to earn credentials, such as the National Administration Credential and the Child Development Associate designation, to earn a professional license.

Generally, the National Administration Credential (NAC) is provided by the National Child Care Association. It’s accessible to child care directors with varying experience levels. However, to earn the NAC designation, directors must complete a 40-hour course covering:

  • Community relations
  • Education curriculum
  • Facility and staff management

A NAC credential is valid for two years, during which the director must meet the required 20 hours of continued education to maintain it. As a director, you can renew this designation every two years so long as you’re continuing with education as required and prove ongoing work experience.

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, on its end, is offered by the Council for Professional Recognition.

Its requirements include:

  • 480+ hours of child care work experience within the past five years
  • 120 hours of education in child care within the past five years

You can earn the CDA designation in infant/toddler-aged or preschool-aged care. Whatever the choice, the designation is valid for three years. After which, you can renew it every five years with ongoing education.

Most states may also require child care directors to meet training requirements in topics, such as:

  • First aid
  • CPR
  • Safe sleep

You can also choose to complete the National Administrator Credential, a 45-hour course that helps boost your administrative skills.

Other Types of Child Care Training

You can also consider joining the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Zero to Three, National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE), or such organizations that provide opportunities for:

  • Continuous education
  • Ongoing training
  • Connection with other child care directors or educators via webinars and conferences

Or utilize any of the following Training, Webinars, and Childcare Resources for Providers.

Seeing that different state licensing agencies have different ways of evaluating the qualifications of child care staff, it’s best to contact your state agencies to find out whether your target training programs meet their requirements.

You can find direct website links to specific state child care licensing regulation information and licensing agencies’ contact details on the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations site.

Pandemic considerations

Child care staff should also receive training on pandemic-related topics and procedures to help keep young children, their families, and other members safe amid COVID-19.

Such training should cover:

  • Recognizing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Enhanced health and safety measures
  • Conducting temperature checks and other health screenings
  • Caring for kids who begin exhibiting signs of COVID-19 (and other contagious illnesses.)

Get the Training You Need

Overall, education training is an essential element of a quality child care program. Hence the need for relevant preservice qualifications before prospective child care directors or teachers can operate in, work, or take new roles in licensed child care programs.
The minimum requirements needed to qualify for different roles vary from state to state. (Which may make child care training a tad overwhelming, more so when you take into account other factors, such as cost, quality, convenience, and accessibility.)

Fortunately for you, Wonderschool understands these challenges and strives to provide you with the best solution possible. Our technology helps ensure high-quality and accessible childcare. (With an unmatched depth of services and features robustness, the user-friendly interface only serves as an icing on the cake)