Careful research shows that better prepared family care providers offer our youngest children higher-quality care. In order to improve the cognitive, social and emotional development of infants and toddlers, policy leaders have instituted training and education qualifications for licensed providers and designed multiple initiatives to prepare and inform early care staff.
So what works? What types of education are most effective in advancing the quality of family child care homes and centers? Researchers from the National Center for Children in Poverty (2005) reviewed a wide body of literature on training methods for early care providers and provide the following summaries for professionals and policy-makers:
- Coursework that provides higher education credits and is supplemented with technical support seems to enhance quality in the early care setting, particularly for family care providers. Caregivers receiving technical assistance demonstrated higher quality scores in language/reasoning and basic/personal care.
- Noncredit training has a greater impact on caregivers who have no affiliation with a professional organization (such as the National Association for the Education for Young Children) than on affiliated providers. Prior to training, affiliated providers typically have higher observed levels of quality than unaffiliated providers.
- Scholarships providing enrollment in community college-level coursework in child development appear to increase overall quality ratings in center-based providers.
- Long-term, personalized coaching for caregivers can improve early care quality. Infant caregivers involved in mentoring programs have demonstrated improved quality in discipline techniques, sensitivity and learning activities.
More research needs to be done on infant and toddler caregiver training and education. What we do know is that training methods need to match the particular types of providers, and trainers need to be ready to make adjustments as the research advances.
For more information on the well-being of children in Memphis and Shelby County, please visit The Urban Child Institute at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org.
Kreader, J., Ferguson, D., & Lawrence, S. (2005, August). Impact of training and education for caregivers of infants and toddlers (Research-To-Policy No. 3). National Center for Children In Poverty.