Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.3 Pre-service Qualifications

1.3.2 Caregiver’s/Teacher’s and Other Staff Qualifications Qualifications of Lead Teachers and Teachers

Lead teachers and teachers should be at least twenty-one years of age and should have at least the following education, experience, and skills:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, school-age care, child development, social work, nursing, or other child-related field, or an associate’s degree in early childhood education and currently working towards a bachelor’s degree;
  2. A minimum of one year on-the-job training in providing a nurturing indoor and outdoor environment and meeting the child’s out-of-home needs;
  3. One or more years of experience, under qualified supervision, working as a teacher serving the ages and developmental abilities of the children in care;
  4. A valid certificate in pediatric first aid, including CPR;
  5. Thorough knowledge of normal child development and early childhood education, as well as knowledge of indicators that a child is not developing typically;
  6. The ability to respond appropriately to children’s needs;
  7. The ability to recognize signs of illness and safety/injury hazards and respond with prevention interventions;
  8. Oral and written communication skills;
  9. Medication administration training (8).

Every center, regardless of setting, should have at least one licensed/certified lead teacher (or mentor teacher) who meets the above requirements working in the child care facility at all times when children are in care.

Additionally, facilities serving children with special health care needs associated with developmental delay should employ an individual who has had a minimum of eight hours of training in inclusion of children with special health care needs.

Child care that promotes healthy development is based on the developmental needs of infants, toddlers, and preschool children. Caregivers/teachers are chosen for their knowledge of, and ability to respond appropriately to, the needs of children of this age generally, and the unique characteristics of individual children (1-4). Both early childhood and special educational experience are useful in a center. Caregivers/teachers that have received formal education from an accredited college or university have shown to have better quality of care and outcomes of programs. Those teachers with a four-year college degree exhibit optimal teacher behavior and positive effects on children (6).

Caregivers/teachers are more likely to administer medications than to perform CPR. Seven thousand children per year require emergency department visits for problems related to cough and cold medication (7).

The profession of early childhood education is being informed by the research on early childhood brain development, child development practices related to child outcomes (5). For additional information on qualifications for child care staff, refer to the Standards for Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (4). Additional information on the early childhood education profession is available from the Center for the Child Care Workforce (CCW).
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training for Staff Topics Covered in Pediatric First Aid Training Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training for Swimming and Water Play
  1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Child Care Research Network. 1996. Characteristics of infant child care: Factors contributing to positive caregiving. Early Child Res Q 11:269-306.
  2. Bredekamp, S., C. Copple, eds. 1997. Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Rev ed. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  3. U.S. Department of Justice. 2011. Americans with Disabilities Act.
  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. Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development, Board on Children, Youth, and Families. 2000. From neurons to neighborhoods. Ed. J. P. Shonkoff, D. A. Phillips. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  6. Kagan, S. L., K. Tarrent, K. Kauerz. 2008. The early care and education teaching workforce at the fulcrum, 44-47, 90-91. New York: Teachers College Press.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008. CDC study estimates 7,000 pediatric emergency departments visits linked to cough and cold medication: Unsupervised ingestion accounts for 66 percent of incidents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  8. American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on School Health. 2009. Policy statement: Guidance for the administration of medication in school. Pediatrics 124:1244-51.