Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.4 Professional Development/Training

1.4.1 Pre-service Training Pre-service Training

In addition to the credentials listed in Standard, upon employment, a director or administrator of a center or the lead caregiver/teacher in a family child care home should provide documentation of at least thirty clock-hours of pre-service training. This training should cover health, psychosocial, and safety issues for out-of-home child care facilities. Small family child care home caregivers/teachers may have up to ninety days to secure training after opening except for training on basic health and safety procedures and regulatory requirements.

All directors or program administrators and caregivers/teachers should document receipt of pre-service training prior to working with children that includes the following content on basic program operations:

  1. Typical and atypical child development and appropriate best practice for a range of developmental and mental health needs including knowledge about the developmental stages for the ages of children enrolled in the facility;
  2. Positive ways to support language, cognitive, social, and emotional development including appropriate guidance and discipline;
  3. Developing and maintaining relationships with families of children enrolled, including the resources to obtain supportive services for children’s unique developmental needs;
  4. Procedures for preventing the spread of infectious disease, including hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, cleaning and disinfection of toys and equipment, diaper changing, food handling, health department notification of reportable diseases, and health issues related to having animals in the facility;
  5. Teaching child care staff and children about infection control and injury prevention through role modeling;
  6. Safe sleep practices including reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (infant sleep position and crib safety);
  7. Shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma prevention and identification, including how to cope with a crying/fussy infant;
  8. Poison prevention and poison safety;
  9. Immunization requirements for children and staff;
  10. Common childhood illnesses and their management, including child care exclusion policies and recognizing signs and symptoms of serious illness;
  11. Reduction of injury and illness through environmental design and maintenance;
  12. Knowledge of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) product recall reports;
  13. Staff occupational health and safety practices, such as proper procedures, in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) bloodborne pathogens regulations;
  14. Emergency procedures and preparedness for disasters, emergencies, other threatening situations (including weather-related, natural disasters), and injury to infants and children in care;
  15. Promotion of health and safety in the child care setting, including staff health and pregnant workers;
  16. First aid including CPR for infants and children;
  17. Recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect in compliance with state laws and knowledge of protective factors to prevent child maltreatment;
  18. Nutrition and age-appropriate child-feeding including food preparation, choking prevention, menu planning, and breastfeeding supportive practices;
  19. Physical activity, including age-appropriate activities and limiting sedentary behaviors;
  20. Prevention of childhood obesity and related chronic diseases;
  21. Knowledge of environmental health issues for both children and staff;
  22. Knowledge of medication administration policies and practices;
  23. Caring for children with special health care needs, mental health needs, and developmental disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  24. Strategies for implementing care plans for children with special health care needs and inclusion of all children in activities;
  25. Positive approaches to support diversity;
  26. Positive ways to promote physical and intellectual development.
The director or program administrator of a center or large family child care home or the small family child care home caregiver/teacher is the person accountable for all policies. Basic entry-level knowledge of health and safety and social and emotional needs is essential to administer the facility. Caregivers/teachers should be knowledgeable about infectious disease and immunizations because properly implemented health policies can reduce the spread of disease, not only among the children but also among staff members, family members, and in the greater community (1). Knowledge of injury prevention measures in child care is essential to control known risks. Pediatric first aid training that includes CPR is important because the director or small family child care home caregiver/teacher is fully responsible for all aspects of the health of the children in care. Medication administration and knowledge about caring for children with special health care needs is essential to maintaining the health and safety of children with special health care needs. Most SIDS deaths in child care occur on the first day of child care or within the first week due to unaccustomed prone (on the stomach) sleeping; the risk of SIDS increases eighteen times when an infant who sleeps supine (on the back) at home is placed in the prone position in child care (2). Shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma is completely preventable. It is crucial for caregivers/teachers to be knowledgeable of both syndromes and how to prevent them before they care for infants. Early childhood expertise is necessary to guide the curriculum and opportunities for children in programs (3). The minimum of a Child Development Associate credential with a system of required contact hours, specific content areas, and a set renewal cycle in addition to an assessment requirement would add significantly to the level of care and education for children.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a leading organization in child care and early childhood education, recommends annual training based on the needs of the program and the pre-service qualifications of staff (4). Training should address the following areas:

  1. Health and safety (specifically reducing the risk of SIDS, infant safe sleep practices, shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma), and poison prevention and poison safety;
  2. Child growth and development, including motor development and appropriate physical activity;
  3. Nutrition and feeding of children;
  4. Planning learning activities for all children;
  5. Guidance and discipline techniques;
  6. Linkages with community services;
  7. Communication and relations with families;
  8. Detection and reporting of child abuse and neglect;
  9. Advocacy for early childhood programs;
  10. Professional issues (5).

In the early childhood field there is often “crossover” regarding professional preparation (pre-service programs) and ongoing professional development (in-service programs). This field is one in which entry-level requirements differ across various sectors within the field (e.g., nursing, family support, and bookkeeping are also fields with varying entry-level requirements). In early childhood, the requirements differ across center, home, and school based settings. An individual could receive professional preparation (pre-service) to be a teaching staff member in a community-based organization and receive subsequent education and training as part of an ongoing professional development system (in-service). The same individual could also be pursuing a degree for a role as a teacher in a program for which licensure is required—this in-service program would be considered pre-service education for the certified teaching position. Therefore, the labels pre-service and in-service must be seen as related to a position in the field, and not based on the individual’s professional development program (5).

Training in infectious disease control and injury prevention may be obtained from a child care health consultant, pediatricians, or other qualified personnel of children’s and community hospitals, managed care companies, health agencies, public health departments, EMS and fire professionals, pediatric emergency room physicians, or other health and safety professionals in the community.

For more information about training opportunities, contact the local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCRRA), the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (AAP provides online SIDS and medication administration training), the Healthy Child Care America Project, or the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (NRC). California Childcare Health Program (CCHP) has free curricula for health and safety for caregivers/teachers to become child care health advocates. The curriculum (English and Spanish) is free to download on the Web at http://www.ucsfchildcare, and is based on the National Training Institute for Child Care Health Consultants (NTI) curriculum for child care health consultants. Online training for caregivers/teachers is also available through some state agencies.

For more information on social-emotional training, contact the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) at

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS General Qualifications of Directors First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training for Staff Pre-Employment and Ongoing Adult Health Appraisals, Including Immunization Emergency and Evacuation Drills Policy Training Record Regulatory Agency Provision of Caregiver/Teacher and Consumer Training and Support Services Provision of Training to Facilities by Health Agencies
  1. 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.
  2. Hayney M. S., J. C. Bartell. 2005. An immunization education program for childcare providers. J of School Health 75:147-49.
  3. Moon R. Y., R. P. Oden. 2003. Back to sleep: Can we influence child care providers? Pediatrics 112:878-82.
  4. Ritchie, S., B. Willer. 2008. Teachers: A guide to the NAEYC early childhood program standard and related accreditation criteria. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
  5. National Association for the Education of Young Children. 2010. Definition of early childhood professional development, 12. Eds. M. S. Donovan, J. D. Bransford, J. W. Pellegrino. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.