Infant/Toddler Providers Need Specialized Knowledge and Skills to Provide High-Quality Care

Oct 05, 2010

By Teresa Lim

The earliest years of a child's life are a time of exploration and learning. Babies and toddlers rely on those who take care of them for guidance in understanding the world around them. Research tells us that when providers are nurturing, responsive, and sensitive to the cues and needs of very young children, they increase the likelihood of positive child outcomes, such as the formation of healthy brain architecture, which is the foundation for health, behavior, and learning. To build these characteristics, providers need specialized understanding of the interconnections between babies and toddlers' physical, social-emotional, language, and cognitive development. Providers who demonstrate responsiveness and sensitivity tend to have completed higher levels of formal training and education in child development. 

A new fact sheet by the National Infant and Toddler Child Care Initiative reports that 21 states currently offer an infant/toddler credential. Infant/toddler credentials are a formal type of recognition given to those who complete training, education, or other requirements related specifically to the care of infants and toddlers. States vary in terms of the qualifications they require providers to meet to attain an infant/toddler credential. For instance, seven states require that providers complete credit-based coursework, three states award the credential based on non-credit training, and eleven states require a combination of both or have other conditions. Some states offer an infant/toddler credential through the Child Development Associate (CDA) program.

According to data recently released by the Council for Professional Regulation, the number of Infant/Toddler CDA Credentials that have been awarded since 2000 has more than doubled. In 2010, more than 6,000 infant/toddler credentials were awarded, the highest number since the credential was first offered in 1985. Overall, the number of infant/toddler credentials that have been earned has steadily grown in the past decade.

In Wisconsin, the Infant Toddler Professional Credential was developed with funding from the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) infant and toddler earmark.  To earn the credential, providers must complete 12 credits (four three-credit courses) available at any state technical college and some universities. Providers working towards the credential can apply for a scholarship through the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® WISCONISN program and are eligible to participate in the R.E.W.A.R.D.TM WISCONSIN Stipend Program, a compensation and retention initiative.

Infants and toddlers need providers who have a solid understanding of child development during the early years and the skills to attend to their particular needs. Infant/toddler credentials are one way to prepare and recognize providers who work to provide high-quality care for infants and toddlers.

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