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 for Assistant Teachers, Teacher Aides, and Volunteers

Assistant teachers and teacher aides should be at least eighteen years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, and participate in on-the-job training, including a structured orientation to the developmental needs of young children and access to consultation, with periodic review, by a supervisory staff member. At least 50% of all assistant teachers and teacher aides must have or be working on either a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or equivalent, or an associate’s or higher degree in early childhood education/child development or equivalent (9).

Volunteers should be at least sixteen years of age and should participate in on-the-job training, including a structured orientation to the developmental needs of young children. Assistant teachers, teacher aides, and volunteers should work only under the continual supervision of lead teacher or teacher. Assistant teachers, teacher aides, and volunteers should never be left alone with children. Volunteers should not be counted in the child:staff ratio.

All assistant teachers, teacher aides, and volunteers should possess:

  1. The ability to carry out assigned tasks competently under the supervision of another staff member;
  2. An understanding of and the ability to respond appropriately to children’s needs;
  3. Sound judgment;
  4. Emotional maturity; and
  5. Clearly discernible affection for and commitment to the well-being of children.
While volunteers and students can be as young as sixteen, age eighteen is the earliest age of legal consent. Mature leadership is clearly preferable. Age twenty-one allows for the maturity necessary to meet the responsibilities of managing a center or independently caring for a group of children who are not one’s own.

Child care that promotes healthy development is based on the developmental needs of infants, toddlers, preschool, and school-age children. Caregivers/teachers should be chosen for their knowledge of, and ability to respond appropriately to, the general needs of children of this age and the unique characteristics of individual children (1,3-5).

Staff training in child development and/or early childhood education is related to positive outcomes for children. This training enables the staff to provide children with a variety of learning and social experiences appropriate to the age of the child. Everyone providing service to, or interacting with, children in a center contributes to the child’s total experience (8).

Adequate compensation for skilled workers will not be given priority until the skills required are recognized and valued. Teaching and caregiving requires skills to promote development and learning by children whose needs and abilities change at a rapid rate.

Experience and qualifications used by the Child Development Associate (CDA) program and the National Child Care Association (NCCA) credentialing program, and included in degree programs with field placement are valued (10). Early childhood professional knowledge must be required whether programs are in private homes, centers, public schools, or other settings. Go to http://www to view appropriate training and qualification information on the CDA Credential.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) National Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation, the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) and the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC) have established criteria for staff qualifications (2,6,7).

Caregivers/teachers who lack educational qualifications may be employed as continuously supervised personnel while they acquire the necessary educational qualifications if they have personal characteristics, experience, and skills in working with parents, guardians and children, and the potential for development on the job or in a training program.

States may have different age requirements for volunteers.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Qualifications for Drivers
  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. 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.
  3. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2009. Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: NAEYC. statement Web.pdf.
  4. U.S. Department of Justice. 2011. Americans with Disabilities Act.
  5. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2009. Standards for Early Childhood professional preparation programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC. http://www.naeyc
  6. National Child Care Association (NCCA). NCCA official Website.
  7. National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). NAFCC official Website.
  8. Da Ros-Voseles, D., S. Fowler-Haughey. 2007. Why children’s dispositions should matter to all teachers. Young Children (September): 1-7.
  9. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Candidacy requirements.
  10. Council for Professional Recognition. 2011. How to obtain a CDA.