Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.4 Professional Development/Training

1.4.4 Continuing Education/Professional Development Continuing Education for Directors and Caregivers/Teachers in Centers and Large Family Child Care Homes

All directors and caregivers/teachers of centers and large family child care homes should successfully complete at least thirty clock-hours per year of continuing education/professional development in the first year of employment, sixteen clock-hours of which should be in child development programming and fourteen of which should be in child health, safety, and staff health. In the second and each of the following years of employment at a facility, all directors and caregivers/teachers should successfully complete at least twenty-four clock-hours of continuing education based on individual competency needs and any special needs of the children in their care, sixteen hours of which should be in child development programming and eight hours of which should be in child health, safety, and staff health.

Programs should conduct a needs assessment to identify areas of focus, trainer qualifications, adult learning strategies, and create an annual professional development plan for staff based on the needs assessment. The effectiveness of training should be evident by the change in performance as measured by accreditation standards or other quality assurance systems.

Because of the nature of their caregiving/teaching tasks, caregivers/teachers must attain multifaceted knowledge and skills. Child health and employee health are integral to any education/training curriculum and program management plan. Planning and evaluation of training should be based on performance of the staff member(s) involved. Too often, staff members make training choices based on what they like to learn about (their “wants”) and not the areas in which their performance should be improved (their “needs”). Participation in training does not ensure that the participant will master the information and skills offered in the training experience. Therefore, caregiver/teacher change in behavior or the continuation of appropriate practice resulting from the training, not just participation in training, should be assessed by supervisors and directors (4).

In addition to low child:staff ratio, group size, age mix of children, and stability of caregiver/teacher, the training/education of caregivers/teachers is a specific indicator of child care quality (2). Most skilled roles require training related to the functions and responsibilities the role requires. Staff members who are better trained are better able to prevent, recognize, and correct health and safety problems. The number of training hours recommended in this standard reflects the central focus of caregivers/teachers on child development, health, and safety.

Children may come to child care with identified special health care needs or special needs may be identified while attending child care, so staff should be trained in recognizing health problems as well as in implementing care plans for previously identified needs. Medications are often required either on an emergent or scheduled basis for a child to safely attend child care. Caregivers/teachers should be well trained on medication administration and appropriate policies should be in place.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a leading organization in child care and early childhood education, recommends annual training/professional development based on the needs of the program and the pre-service qualifications of staff (1). Training should address the following areas:

  1. Promoting child growth and development correlated with developmentally appropriate activities;
  2. Infant care;
  3. Recognizing and managing minor illness and injury;
  4. Managing the care of children who require the special procedures listed in Standard;
  5. Medication administration;
  6. Business aspects of the small family child care home;
  7. Planning developmentally appropriate activities in mixed age groupings;
  8. Nutrition for children in the context of preparing nutritious meals for the family;
  9. Age-appropriate size servings of food and child feeding practices;
  10. Acceptable methods of discipline/setting limits;
  11. Organizing the home for child care;
  12. Preventing unintentional injuries in the home (e.g., falls, poisoning, burns, drowning);
  13. Available community services;
  14. Detecting, preventing, and reporting child abuse and neglect;
  15. Advocacy skills;
  16. Pediatric first aid, including pediatric CPR;
  17. Methods of effective communication with children and parents/guardians;
  18. Socio-emotional and mental health (positive approaches with consistent and nurturing relationships);
  19. Evacuation and shelter-in-place drill procedures;
  20. Occupational health hazards;
  21. Infant safe sleep environments and practices;
  22. Standard Precautions;
  23. Shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma;
  24. Dental issues;
  25. Age-appropriate nutrition and physical activity.

There are few illnesses for which children should be excluded from child care. Decisions about management of ill children are facilitated by skill in assessing the extent to which the behavior suggesting illness requires special management (3). Continuing education on managing infectious diseases helps prepare caregivers/teachers to make these decisions devoid of personal biases (5). Recommendations regarding responses to illnesses may change (e.g., H1N1), so caregivers/teachers need to know where they can find the most current information. All caregivers/teachers should be trained to prevent, assess, and treat injuries common in child care settings and to comfort an injured child and children witnessing an injury.

Tools for assessment of training needs are part of the accreditation self-study tools available from the NAEYC, the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), National Early Childhood Professional Accreditation (NECPA), Association for Christian Education International (ACEI), National AfterSchool Association (NAA), and the National Child Care Association (NCCA). Successful completion of training can be measured by a performance test at the end of training and by ongoing evaluation of performance on the job.

Resources for training on health and safety issues include:

  1. State and local health departments (health education, environmental health and sanitation, nutrition, public health nursing departments, fire and EMS, etc.);
  2. Networks of child care health consultants;
  3. Graduates of the National Training Institute for Child Care Health Consultants (NTI);
  4. Child care resource and referral agencies;
  5. University Centers for Excellence on Disabilities;
  6. Local children’s hospitals;
  7. State and local chapters of:
    1. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), including AAP Chapter Child Care Contacts;
    2. American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP);
    3. American Nurses’ Association (ANA);
    4. American Public Health Association (APHA);
    5. Visiting Nurse Association (VNA);
    6. National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP);
    7. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC);
    8. National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC);
    9. National Association of School Nurses (NASN);
    10. Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) National Resource Center;
    11. National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE);
    12. American Dietetic Association (ADA);
    13. American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

For nutrition training, facilities should check that the nutritionist/registered dietician (RD), who provides advice, has experience with, and knowledge of, child development, infant and early childhood nutrition, school-age child nutrition, prescribed nutrition therapies, food service and food safety issues in the child care setting. Most state Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programs, Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP), and Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have a nutrition specialist on staff or access to a local consultant. If this nutrition specialist has knowledge and experience in early childhood and child care, facilities might negotiate for this individual to serve or identify someone to serve as a consultant and trainer for the facility.

Many resources are available for nutritionists/RDs who provide training in food service and nutrition. Some resources to contact include:

  1. Local, county, and state health departments to locate MCH, CACFP, or WIC programs;
  2. State university and college nutrition departments;
  3. Home economists at utility companies;
  4. State affiliates of the American Dietetic Association;
  5. State and regional affiliates of the American Public Health Association;
  6. The American Association of Family and Consumer Services;
  7. National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education;
  8. Nutritionist/RD at a hospital;
  9. High school home economics teachers;
  10. The Dairy Council;
  11. The local American Heart Association affiliate;
  12. The local Cancer Society;
  13. The Society for Nutrition Education;
  14. The local Cooperative Extension office;
  15. Local community colleges and trade schools.

Nutrition education resources may be obtained from the Food and Nutrition Information Center at The staff’s continuing education in nutrition may be supplemented by periodic newsletters and/or literature (frequently bilingual) or audiovisual materials prepared or recommended by the Nutrition Specialist.

Caregivers/teachers should have a basic knowledge of special health care needs, supplemented by specialized training for children with special health care needs. The type of special health care needs of the children in care should influence the selection of the training topics. The number of hours offered in any in-service training program should be determined by the experience and professional background of the staff, which is best achieved through a regular staff conference mechanism.

Financial support and accessibility to training programs requires attention to facilitate compliance with this standard. Many states are using federal funds from the Child Care and Development Block Grant to improve access, quality, and affordability of training for early care and education professionals. College courses, either online or face to face, and training workshops can be used to meet the training hours requirement. These training opportunities can also be conducted on site at the child care facility. Completion of training should be documented by a college transcript or a training certificate that includes title/content of training, contact hours, name and credentials of trainer or course instructor and date of training. Whenever possible the submission of documentation that shows how the learner implemented the concepts taught in the training in the child care program should be documented. Although on-site training can be costly, it may be a more effective approach than participation in training at a remote location.

Projects and Outreach: Early Childhood Research and Evaluation Projects, Midwest Child Care Research Consortium at, identifies the number of hours for education of staff and fourteen indicators of quality from a study conducted in four Midwestern states.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Annual Staff Competency Evaluation Caring for Children Who Require Medical Procedures Medication Administration Training Record Licensing Agency Provision of Child Abuse Prevention Materials Compensation for Participation in Multidisciplinary Assessments for Children with Special Health Care or Education Needs Regulatory Agency Provision of Caregiver/Teacher and Consumer Training and Support Services Provision of Training to Facilities by Health Agencies
Appendix C: Nutrition Specialist, Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist, Consultant, and Food Service Staff Qualifications
  1. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2009. Standards for Early Childhood professional preparation programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC. http://www.naeyc
  2. 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.
  3. Crowley, A. A. 1990. Health services in child care day care centers: A survey. J Pediatr Health Care 4:252-59.
  4. 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.
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide. Aronson SS, Shope TR, eds. 5th ed. Itasca, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2020:15.