Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.7 Staff Health

1.7.0 Stress Management for Staff

Standard last updated on 09/23/2022.

Programs should carry out and document steps to take to help manage and reduce stress for staff, including:

  • Wages and benefits (including health and liability insurance) that compensate the skills, knowledge, and performance needed of staff
  • Regular work breaks and paid time off Keeping up-to-date substitute staff lists and availability
  • Unscheduled work breaks when staff recognize that they or a colleague is stressed and needs to be removed from a stressful situation (e.g., needs immediate relief away from a situation)
  • Backup staffing plan for staff absences or illness
  • Regular performance reviews with individualized, constructive feedback
  • Open communication between program management and staff 
  • Training to improve skills and recognize hazards
  • Tools and resources to manage and reduce stress 
  • Lower child:staff ratios that meet or are lower than licensing regulations
  • A staff lounge suitable for adults, separate from the child care area 
  • Sound-absorbing materials in the child care areas
  • Consultation on child development and behavior (with experts in early intervention, behavioral health, or mental health) to help solve child-specific issues
One of the best signs of quality child care is consistent staff with low turnover rates.1,2 Stress contributes to increased staff turnover and can negatively affect their interactions with children. Staff who are under stress may not be able to offer the praise, nurturing, and direction that children need for optimal development. Stress reduction procedures allow staff to identify risks of stress and the stressors specific to child caregiving, and specific ways to manage stress in the early care and education environment.3

Tools for stress reduction and management for staff are available at:

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Child Abuse and Neglect Education Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants Discipline Measures Preventing and Identifying Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma
  1. Fiene R. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Published March 31, 2002. Accessed August 8, 2022. 
  2. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The NICHD study of early child care and youth development: Findings for children up to age 4 1/2 years (Reference Only) (05-4318). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2006. Accessed August 8, 2022.
  3. Jeon L, Buettner CK, Grant AA, Lang SN. Early childhood teachers’ stress and children’s social, emotional, and behavior functioning. J Appl Dev Psycho. 2019;61:2132. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2018.02.002

Standard last updated on 09/23/2022.