Caring for Our Childen (CFOC)

Chapter 10: Licensing and Community Action

10.3 Licensing Agency

10.3.4 Technical Assistance from the Licensing Agency

10.3.4.3: Support for Consultants to Provide Technical Assistance to Facilities


State agencies should encourage the arrangement and coordination of and the fiscal support for consultants from the local community to provide technical assistance for program development and maintenance. Consultants should have training and experience in early childhood education, early childhood growth and development, issues of health and safety in child care settings, business practices, ability to establish collegial relationships with child care providers, adult learning techniques, and ability to help establish links between facilities and community resources. There should be collaboration among all parts of the early care and education community to provide technical assistance and consultation to improve the quality of care. The licensing agency should be an integral part of the quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) in the state; all parts of the system must collaborate to assure the most effective and efficient use of resources to encourage quality improvement. See Glossary for definition of QRIS.

The state regulatory agency with the Title V or State Child Care Resource and Referral Agency should provide or arrange for other public agencies, private organizations or technical assistance agencies (such as a resource and referral agency) to make the following consultants available to the community of child care providers of all types:

  1. Program consultant, to provide technical assistance for program development and maintenance and business practices. Consultants should be chosen on the basis of training and experience in early childhood education and ability to help establish links between the facility and community resources;
  2. Child care health consultant (CCHC), who has knowledge and expertise in child health and child development, is knowledgeable about the special needs of children in out-of-home care settings, and knows the child care licensing requirements and available health resources. A regional plan to make consultants accessible to facilities for ongoing relationships should be developed;
  3. Nutritionist/registered dietitian, who also has the knowledge of infant and child development, food service, nutrition and nutrition education methods, to be responsible for the development of policies and procedures and for the implementation of nutrition standards to provide high quality meals, nutrition education programs and appropriately trained personnel, and to provide consultation to agency personnel, including collaborating with licensing inspectors;
  4. Early childhood education consultant, to assist centers, large family child care homes, and networks of small family child care homes in partnering with families in meeting the individual development and learning needs of children, including any special developmental and educational needs that a child may have. Early Childhood Education Consultants can assist providers n early detection and referral for identifying and addressing special learning needs, especially infants and toddlers;
  5. Early childhood mental health consultant (ECMHC), to assist centers, large family child care homes, and networks of small family child care homes in meeting the emotional needs of children and families. The state mental health agency should promote funding through community mental health agencies and child guidance clinics for these services. At the least, such consultants should be available when caregivers/teachers identify children whose behaviors are more difficult to manage than typically developing children;
  6. Dental health consultant, to assist centers, large family child care homes and networks small family child care homes in meeting the oral health needs of children. The dental health consultant should have knowledge of pediatric oral health and be able to help with policy and procedure development in this area;
  7. Physical activity consultant, who has knowledge in infant and child motor development (developmental biomechanics), locomotion, ballistic, and manipulative skills, sensory-perceptual development, social, psychosocial, and cultural constraints in motor development, and development of cardio-respiratory endurance, strength and flexibility, and body composition, to be responsible for the development of policies and procedures for the implementation of age and developmentally appropriate physical activity standards to provide children with the movement experiences needed for optimal growth and development, physical education/movement programs, and appropriately trained personnel, and to provide consultation to agency personnel, including collaborating with licensing inspectors.

A plan should be in place that supports the interdisciplinary collaboration of consultant support to programs to ensure coordinated support, avoid duplication and stress on programs and families, and promote efficient use of consultant resources.

Additionally, a plan should be in place that outlines how the state identifies, trains, and supports consultants who, in turn, support programs. Minimum qualifications required of consultants may be specified in state regulations. There are resources for training consultants that can be integrated into state plans for supporting health and other early childhood consultants. States will ideally take advantage of opportunities to partner with Head Start, child welfare, Part C and Part B, and others to maintain an ongoing system of supporting consultants and fostering partnerships that support children, families and programs and help improve the overall quality of services provided in the community.

RATIONALE
Securing expertise is acceptable by whatever method is most workable at the state or local level (for example, consultation could be provided from a resource and referral agency). Providers, not the regulatory agency, are responsible for securing the type of consultation that is required by their individual facilities. Ongoing relationships with CCHCs, nutritionists/registered dietitians, and ECMHCs are effective in promoting healthy and safe environments (3-5).
COMMENTS
Several states now have mental health consultants specifically serving the child care community. There are different models of mental health consultation. Some models are programmatic and only include the staff, others work with individual children with behavioral and emotional problems and the third model integrates both approaches. MHCs are usually social workers or professionals with a child development or psychology background who are trained to work in child care settings (2). There is no formal or standardized training for ECMHCs nationally. Developmental and behavioral pediatricians, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and child psychologists are resources for the behavioral and mental health needs of young children (1). Some, but not all, adolescent and child psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers and child counselors have the necessary skills to work with behavior problems of this youngest age group. To find such specialists, contact the Department of Pediatrics at academic centers or the State Department of Mental Health. The faculty at such centers can usually refer child care facilities to individuals with the necessary skills in their area.

The administrative practice of developing systems for technical assistance is designed to enhance the overall quality of child care that meets the social and developmental needs of children. The chief sources of technical assistance are:

  1. AAP Chapter Child Care Contact (contact information can be found at http://www.healthychildcare.org);
  2. Licensing agencies (on ways to meet the regulations and make quality improvements);
  3. Health departments (on health related matters);
  4. Resource and referral agencies (on ways to achieve quality, how to start a new facility, supply and demand data, how to get licensed, and what parents/guardians want);
  5. Community action programs or non-profit organizations (on health related matters including physical education, for health education and/or quality improvement issues);
  6. Local university kinesiology departments (on early childhood motor development and physical activity issues);
  7. Small business administration (on financial issues related to program operations);
  8. Subsidy agencies may fund a variety of consultants to programs through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) quality dollars;
  9. Education departments often administer the food program dollars and may have technical assistance related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
REFERENCES
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 2001. The pediatrician’s role in promoting health and safety in child care. Elk Grove Village, IL: AAP.
  2. Healthy Child Care America. 2006. The influence of child care health consultants in promoting children’s health and well-being: A status report. Rockville, MD: Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
  3. Crowley, A. A., J. M. Kulikowich. Impact of training on child care health consultant knowledge and practice. Ped Nurs 35:93-100.
  4. Dellert, J. C., D. Gasalberti, K. Sternas, P. Lucarelli, J. Hall. 2006. Outcomes of child care health consultation services for child care providers in New Jersey: A pilot study. Pediatric Nursing 32:530-37.
  5. Alkon, A., J. Bernzweig, K. To, M. Wolff, J. F. Mackie. 2009. Child care health consultation improves health and safety policies and practices. Acad Pediatr 9:366-70.