Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.3 Program Activities for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Personal Caregiver/Teacher Relationships for Three- to Five-Year-Olds

Facilities should provide opportunities for each child to build long-term, trusting relationships with a few caring caregivers/teachers by limiting the number of adults the facility permits to care for any one child in child care to a maximum of eight adults in a given year and no more than three primary caregivers/teachers in a day. Children with special health care needs may require additional specialists to promote health and safety and to support learning; however, relationships with primary caregivers/teachers should be supported.
Children learn best from adults who know and respect them; who act as guides, facilitators, and supporters within a rich learning environment; and with whom they have established a trusting relationship (1,2). When the facility allows too many adults to be involved in the child’s care, the child does not develop a reciprocal, sustained, responsive, and trusting relationship with any of them.

Children should have continuous friendly and trusting relationships with several caregivers/teachers who are reasonably consistent within the child care facility. Young children can extract from these relationships a sense of themselves with a capacity for forming trusting relationships and self-esteem. Relationships are fragmented by rapid staff turnover, staffing reassignment, or if the child is frequently moved from one room to another or one child care facility to another.

Compliance should be measured by staff and parent/guardian interviews. Turnover of staff lowers the quality of the facility. High quality facilities maintain low turnover through their wage policies, training and support for staff (3).
Center, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. Rodd, J. 1996. Understanding young children’s behavior: A guide for early childhood professionals. New York: Teacher’s College Press.
  2. Greenberg, P. 1991. Character development: Encouraging self-esteem and self-discipline in infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  3. Whitebook, M., D. Bellm. 1998. Taking on turnover: An action guide for child care center teachers and directors. Washington, DC: Center for the Child Care Workforce.