Better for Babies: Infants and Toddlers Need Nurturing, Responsive Providers They Can Trust to Care for Them as They Grow and Learn

Sep 12, 2013

By Stephanie Schmit      

This post is the third installment in a series highlighting the findings from CLASP's recent study and subsequent publication, "Better For Babies: A Study of State Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies." Read the first and second posts here>>

Recently, CLASP released a report, Better for Babies: A Study of State Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies, that presents data from a recent state survey of child care subsidy, licensing, and quality enhancement policies.  It provides a national picture of infant-toddler child care.

The new report is part of CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care Project. The foundation of Charting Progress is a Policy Framework comprised of four key principles describing what babies and toddlers in child care need. One of the key principles is having nurturing, responsive relationships with caring adults. Caring relationships are at the core of quality infant-toddler care. In order for infants and toddlers to benefit from such relationships, providers and caregivers need a set of skills and knowledge that enables them to best support young children.

Better for Babies contains several findings related to nurturing, responsive relationships with caring adults:

  • Twenty-one states report licensing standards that require a consistent primary caregiver for infants and toddlers in care. A few additional states encourage continuity of care through other means, including regulations, policies, or waivers. Providers and caregivers who regularly care for very young children can have a positive impact on child development by forming continuous, strong attachments with children.
  • Twenty states have compensation initiatives available for infant-toddler providers to help programs attract and retain qualified staff to work with young children.
  • While more than half of states (30) reported having specific infant-toddler training for providers, most state requirements for number of hours are minimal, and the content of training curricula related to infants and toddlers is limited. Although most states provide targeted TA to infant-toddler providers, method and content vary tremendously. Twenty-six states reported that they funded a network of infant-toddler specialists to support infant-toddler child care providers and increase their knowledge and skills - including those that relate to responsive caregiving. Improving the knowledge and skills of infant-toddler caregivers, through training or targeted technical assistance (TA), is closely related to improving the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
  • Twenty-five states reported that they have established core knowledge or core competencies specific to infant-toddler child care providers. Infant-toddler child care providers and caregivers need information and knowledge specific to the age of the children for whom they care, along with the skills and practices to apply this information and knowledge.
  • Less than half of states (22) reported having an infant-toddler credential for the child care workforce. Eighteen states reported that their credential is credit-based. Providers with higher levels of education and credentials in fields related to early childhood education are linked to higher-quality child care environments and caregiver sensitivity.
  • Thirty-nine states reported that they provide financial supports for the high costs of training or education of infant-toddler providers. Many of these states provide those supports through early childhood T.E.A.C.H. grants.
  • Almost all states (45) have early learning standards or developmental guidelines for infants and toddlers and, of the states that do not, many are in the process of approving them. Early learning standards provide information to programs and providerson what children should know and do at different stages of development. These standards play a key role in supporting children's development in early education. 

Read the full report here >>

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