Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.3 Pre-service Qualifications

1.3.1 Director’s Qualifications General Qualifications of Directors

The director of a center enrolling fewer than sixty children should be at least twenty-one-years-old and should have all the following qualifications:

  1. Have a minimum of a Baccalaureate degree with at least nine credit-bearing hours of specialized college-level course work in administration, leadership, or management, and at least twenty-four credit-bearing hours of specialized college-level course work in early childhood education, child development, elementary education, or early childhood special education that addresses child development, learning from birth through kindergarten, health and safety, and collaboration with consultants OR documents meeting an appropriate combination of relevant education and work experiences (6);
  2. A valid certificate of successful completion of pediatric first aid that includes CPR;
  3. Knowledge of health and safety resources and access to education, health, and mental health consultants;
  4. Knowledge of community resources available to children with special health care needs and the ability to use these resources to make referrals or achieve interagency coordination;
  5. Administrative and management skills in facility operations;
  6. Capability in curriculum design and implementation, ensuring that an effective curriculum is in place;
  7. Oral and written communication skills;
  8. Certificate of satisfactory completion of instruction in medication administration;
  9. Demonstrated life experience skills in working with children in more than one setting;
  10. Interpersonal skills;
  11. Clean background screening.

Knowledge about parenting training/counseling and ability to communicate effectively with parents/guardians about developmental-behavioral issues, child progress, and in creating an intervention plan beginning with how the center will address challenges and how it will help if those efforts are not effective.

The director of a center enrolling more than sixty children should have the above and at least three years experience as a teacher of children in the age group(s) enrolled in the center where the individual will act as the director, plus at least six months experience in administration.

The director of the facility is the team leader of a small business. Both administrative and child development skills are essential for this individual to manage the facility and set appropriate expectations. College-level coursework has been shown to have a measurable, positive effect on quality child care, whereas experience per se has not (1-3,5).

The director of a center plays a pivotal role in ensuring the day-to-day smooth functioning of the facility within the framework of appropriate child development principles and knowledge of family relationships (6).

The well-being of the children, the confidence of the parents/guardians of children in the facility’s care, and the high morale and consistent professional growth of the staff depend largely upon the knowledge, skills, and dependable presence of a director who is able to respond to long-range and immediate needs and able to engage staff in decision-making that affects their day-to-day practice (5,6). Management skills are important and should be viewed primarily as a means of support for the key role of educational leadership that a director provides (6). A skilled director should know how to use early care and education consultants, such as health, education, mental health, and community resources and to identify specialized personnel to enrich the staff’s understanding of health, development, behavior, and curriculum content. Past experience working in an early childhood setting is essential to running a facility.

Life experience may include experience rearing one’s own children or previous personal experience acquired in any child care setting. Work as a hospital aide or at a camp for children with special health care needs would qualify, as would experience in school settings. This experience, however, must be supplemented by competency-based training to determine and provide whatever new skills are needed to care for children in child care settings.

The profession of early childhood education is being informed by research on the association of developmental outcomes with specific practices. The exact combination of college coursework and supervised experience is still being developed. For example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has published the Standards for Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs (4). The National Child Care Association (NCCA) has developed a curriculum based on administrator competencies; more information on the NCCA is available at
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Mixed Director/Teacher Role Differentiated Roles Qualifications of Lead Teachers and Teachers Qualifications for Assistant Teachers, Teacher Aides, and Volunteers Initial Orientation of All Staff Orientation for Care of Children with Special Health Care Needs Orientation Topics First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training for Staff Topics Covered in Pediatric First Aid Training Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training for Swimming and Water Play Continuing Education for Directors and Caregivers/Teachers in Centers and Large Family Child Care Homes Continuing Education for Small Family Child Care Home Caregivers/Teachers Training of Staff Who Handle Food Child Abuse and Neglect Education Training on Occupational Risk Related to Handling Body Fluids Education of Center Staff Training Time and Professional Development Leave Payment for Continuing Education
  1. Roupp, R., J. Travers, F. M., Glantz, C. Coelen. 1979. Children at the center: Summary findings and their implications. Vol. 1 of Final report of the National day care study. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.
  2. Howes, C. 1997. Children’s experiences in center-based child care as a function of teacher background and adult:child ratio. Merrill-Palmer Q 43:404-24.
  3. Helburn, S., ed. 1995. Cost, quality and child outcomes in child care centers. Denver, CO: University of Colorado at Denver.
  4. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2009. Standards for early childhood professional preparation programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC. http://www.naeyc
  5.  Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
  6. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2007. Early childhood program standards and accreditation criteria. Washington, DC: NAEYC.