Virginia Invests In Infant/Toddler Specialists
May 04, 2009
Child care providers and caregivers need a specific set of knowledge and skills to effectively support the healthy development of babies and toddlers and their families. Virginia policymakers have taken an important step to help child care providers enhance the quality of care for babies and toddlers. The Virginia Department of Social Services has awarded a $2 million contract to Child Development Resources, Inc. (CDR) to establish a statewide Infant & Toddler Specialist Network. The goals of the network are to:
- Improve the quality of care and education that infants and toddlers receive while away from their primary caregiver.
- Increase the educational level and competencies of infant and toddler caregivers/teachers and directors.
- Promote community connections to increase awareness and use of available resources and services that support healthy, safe, and nurturing care for infants and toddlers.
- Implement an effective, efficient, and accountable infant and toddler specialist system and increase its capacity to offer services.
Funding comes from the state's Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) infant/toddler earmark. CDR is using a competitive process to establish ten specialists in eight regions in the state. Specialists will be required to develop reliability in the Infant Toddler Environmental Rating Scale (ITERS) and the Family Day Care Environmental Rating Scale (FDCRS), and complete the four modules of the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC), a training curriculum based on the importance of early relationships. Once on board, specialists will assess the needs in their region and offer three levels of service:
- Quality Improvement provides on-site consultation, mentoring, and support using quality improvement plans.
- Quality Enhancement includes training and technical assistance to groups of caregivers/teachers and directors.
- Quality Assurance provides resources, e-mail and telephone consultation, website support audio-conferencing, and linkages to existing professional development opportunities.
Services provided by specialists must be available to the public, be culturally competent and family centered, and appropriate to the needs of target audiences.
Virginia joins at least 19 states that have implemented infant toddler specialist networks to increase the knowledge and skills of those caring for very young children.