Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.3 Pre-service Qualifications

1.3.2 Caregiver’s/Teacher’s and Other Staff Qualifications Differentiated Roles

Centers should employ a caregiving/teaching staff for direct work with children in a progression of roles, as listed in descending order of responsibility:

  1. Program administrator or training/curriculum specialists;
  2. Lead teachers;
  3. Teachers;
  4. Assistant teachers or teacher aides.

Each role with increased responsibility should require increased educational qualifications and experience, as well as increased salary.

A progression of roles enables centers to offer career ladders rather than dead-end jobs. It promotes a mix of college-trained staff with other members of a child’s own community who might have entered at the aide level and moved into higher roles through college or on-the-job training.

Professional education and pre-professional in-service training programs provide an opportunity for career progression and can lead to job and pay upgrades and fewer turnovers. Turnover rates in child care positions in 1997 averaged 30% (3).

Early childhood professional knowledge must be required whether programs are in private centers, public schools, or other settings. The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Academy of Early Childhood Programs recommends a multi-level training program that addresses pre-employment educational requirements and continuing education requirements for entry-level assistants, caregivers/teachers, and administrators. It also establishes a table of qualifications for accredited programs (1). The NAEYC requirements include development of an employee compensation plan to increase salaries and benefits to ensure recruitment and retention of qualified staff and continuity of relationships (2). The NAEYC’s recommendations should be consulted in conjunction with the standards in this document.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home
  1. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2005. Accreditation and criteria procedures of the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
  2. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2009. Standards for early childhood professional preparation programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC. http://www.naeyc
  3. Whitebook, M., C. Howes, D. Phillips. 1998. Worthy work, unlivable wages: The National child care staffing study, 1988-1997. Washington, DC: Center for the Child Care Workforce.