WASHINGTON, DC - In the majority of states in the nation, adults can begin working in child care programs with absolutely no previous training or experience in early childhood education. Today, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) announced a 12-point plan to create a national community-based training system for child care workers. The first point is to require minimum pre-service training for all paid providers caring for unrelated children on a regular basis.
"The quality of child care in the United States is unacceptably poor," says Linda K. Smith, NACCRRA's Executive Director. "It must be a national priority to improve the quality of care for the nearly 12 million children under age 5 cared for every week in child care. This should start at the state and federal level, with the establishment of strong training requirements for all child care providers."
Currently in most states, child care providers can work with children without having training or previous experience, and ongoing training requirements are minimal. Only 12 states require caregivers in child care centers to have training in early childhood education prior to working with children, and only nine and 12 states require providers in small and large family child care homes, respectively, to have such training. NACCRRA's plan calls for all child care providers - including caregivers, directors, and trainers - to meet standard training qualifications, and it calls for a national trainer credential.
Research has shown that professional development of the early childhood workforce is linked to higher quality child care. Trained child care providers are more likely to offer responsive care with effective, age-appropriate activities and curricula. Children in such care have been found to have better language and overall cognitive skills than children in lesser quality care settings.
Polls and focus groups conducted by NACCRRA indicate that both parents and child care providers strongly support training. In fact, more than 90 percent of parents support pre-service and ongoing training of child care providers. Despite having limited money to enroll in training classes, providers also believe that both pre-service and ongoing training should be compulsory.
An already-existing infrastructure is poised to lead the United States in establishing the national training system proposed by NACCRRA. Child Care Resource & Referral agencies (CCR&Rs), located in every state and most communities across the nation, already train more than half-a-million child care providers each year. But these CCR&Rs rely heavily on state and federal funding, which provides 70 percent of funding for training activities, and virtually all funding for scholarships and other incentives to encourage child care providers to secure training.
Smith points out that although many elements of NACCRRA's 12-point plan are internal to the CCR&R field, government support is critical to the plan's success. "It is long overdue for our nation's policymakers to establish minimum training requirements for child care providers and to invest in such training. Reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, with an increase in the set-aside for quality improvement, can provide additional funding for the training of the child care workforce."
The Child Care and Development Block Grant, also known as CCDBG, is the primary federal funding stream for child care in the United States. It provides funds for quality investments and subsidies, and each state determines how the funds will be used within broad federal parameters. CCDBG funding has essentially remained frozen since 2002.
NACCRRA presented its 12-point plan as recommendations in its newest research report, NACCRRA's National Survey of Child Care Resource & Referral Training: Building a Training System for the Child Care Workforce, which it released today. To download NACCRRA's 12-point plan, visit www.naccrra.org, where you can also order a printed copy of the complete training report.