Childcare provides are highly skilled individuals with one of the most rewarding and demanding occupations today: caring for and ensuring the safety of children. Child care providers must complete a number of courses, training programs, and even college degrees to meet the requirements necessary to qualify for employment. Most child care providers are required to meet state and employer qualification standards regarding education and licensure before establishing or advancing their careers.
Child care providers and workers are responsible for “day parenting” infants, children, and preteens in the absence of their parents, they must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to nurture, teach, and offer loving care to families. Childcare providers are responsible to monitor and attend to the health, safety, developmental and nutritional needs of each child in their care. Childcare providers must organize and structure activities which foster a child’s physical, intellectual, emotional, and social growth as well as encourage the children in their care to explore, develop, and prepare for the future. Childcare providers are required to develop daily routines, incorporate new activities, and accommodate any challenges in the day to day aspects of their occupation. Childcare providers also must maintain and monitor the safety, health, and overall well being of the children they care for by instilling good health, hygiene, exercise, rest, and nutritional habits. Childcare providers are trained to help parents identify children’s emotional, behavioral, developmental, physical, or learning problems and report such conditions to ensure children receive proper, professional assistance.
Childcare providers often work long hours within their own homes as family care providers, as workers within child care facilities, or as providers within a child’s home. Child care providers must be reliable, have excellent communication skills, possess physical stamina, and be able to multitask. The work of a child care provider is often mentally and physically demanding as providers must be able to foresee and prevent a number of problems while managing the daily routines of caring for children. Providers must deal be patient, provide fair and consistent discipline, manage disruptions, and possess enthusiasm. Most providers also must have excellent time management and organizational abilities to handle the business and communication aspects of their jobs.
Some childcare providers work part time while others work full time to meet the needs of parents who drop off and pick up children before and after work. Many childcare centers and family care providers cater to parental work schedules by having flexible hours to ensure adequate child care coverage. Some child care providers work within preschools or early childhood programs though almost 33 percent are self employed and care for children within private residences, per reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). The BLS expects employment for child care providers to remain stable, with job growth predicted to increase by 11 percent at an average rate through 2018, and offer security as many workers retire or leave the occupation to pursue alternative employment.
Childcare providers who care for children within the child’s home are often also called nannies or babysitters. Many offer their services to one or multiple families depending upon predetermined arrangements based upon convenience for all parties. Childcare providers who work at the family’s residence often assist with providing care for and meeting their clients’ basic child health and safety needs. Babysitters and nannies often care for children from birth until age 12, offering discipline, educational games and activities, dressing, bathing, and feeding the children in their care. Many of these workers travel from their homes to the child’s home though some live with the families they provide child care for.
Family care providers work from their private residences offering child care to small groups of families. These child care workers often work alone or in pairs, offering educational and socially stimulating games, activities, and other creative projects to the children in their care. Family care providers are required to follow state regulations, laws, and codes regarding conduct, discipline, safety, health, and the treatment of the children in care. Childcare providers within family care settings often work long hours with low pay while offering a safe environment for children. These workers give children a number of opportunities for basic indoor and outdoor activities which foster play, socialization, and learning. Family care providers structure age appropriate activities like reading, crafts, dance, music, role playing, and story telling as well as visits to libraries, playgrounds, pools, and other locations. Most states require family care providers to gain and maintain licensure upon meeting application requirements, completion of safety courses, and demonstrating the understanding of child health, development, and reporting practices. Local governments and child care organizations regulate family care providers with regular home inspections, criminal background checks, and record keeping regarding the proper safety and treatment of the children in their care.
Childcare providers who work within formal child care centers, daycare facilities, preschools, nursery schools, Head Start programs, and other early education centers care for small numbers of children based upon State and facility regulations. Daycare facilities, pre or nursery schools, and child care centers are required to closely follow State and local regulations regarding the ratio of workers to the number of children in care. Provides within daycare facilities generally may only be responsible for 3-4 infants, 4-10 toddlers, and/or 8-25 preschool aged children though most state regulations regarding ratios vary tremendously. Daycare centers also must meet staff qualification requirements as well as child health and safety regulations. Providers within daycare facilities help develop schedules and plan short as well as long term activities based upon well balanced amounts of learning, exploration, exercise, and rest. Workers within daycare centers also offer activities, offer nutritious snacks and foods, assist with diapering and toileting, instill proper hygiene, maintain and monitor the safety and health of every child in their care, and encourage age appropriate mathematical and reading skills.
Training to gain the qualifications to become a child care provider depends upon state and employer requirements. Most child care providers are required to complete a minimum of a high school diploma or G.E.D. Child care providers who work as family day care or as workers within child care facilities often must complete child care courses offered by private firms or publicly funded childcare organizations. Child care providers who work from their private residences caring for a few children ages 2 through 5 generally do not complete formal educational programs.
Child care providers who care for 3 or more children generally are required to complete a minimum of State determined certification and licensing programs as well as pass a criminal background check. Most family day care providers complete yearly training requirements to maintain licensure and remain current on health and safety regulations. Childcare providers employed within day care centers or preschools are frequently required to pass a background check, have current immunizations, and generally have previous work experience or formal training from associate degree programs as many employers prefer candidates with some education. Many providers within day care centers complete studies within two year child development or early childhood education programs with courses like: foundation literacy; health, safety, and nutrition for young children; essentials of psychology, art appreciation; music appreciation; fundamentals of early childhood education; child growth and development; curriculum for early childhood education; language and literacy development in young children; developing math and science skills in young children; art, music, and movement; English composition; computer applications; working with preschoolers; infant and toddler care; introduction to biology; interpersonal communication; play in the lives of young children; working with children with special needs; guidance in early years; math for business and family; the child, family, and community; cultural diversity in the early childhood program; administration of an early childhood education center; and assessment in early childhood education.
Directors of child care facilities often complete a minimum of a bachelor degree within an early childhood program to qualify for employment. Courses like: guiding the young child’s behavior; the exceptional child and the inclusive classroom; music and movement for the young child; math and science for the young child; language and literacy for young children; creative art for the young child; early foundations for moral and character development; promoting children’s well being; transitional kindergarten programs; advancing early childhood programs through technology; effective learning environments; early communication skills and literacy in multilingual communities; advanced curriculum design and development in early childhood education; leadership and advocacy in early childhood education; advanced practicum in a classroom setting; and capstone for early childhood education.
Child care workers who work within private residences for one or a few families are generally not regulated by State qualifications but all providers frequently must meet varying levels of health and first aid, fire safety, and child abuse prevention and detection requirements. Additionally, many states require providers to complete licensing programs offered through the national Child Development Association, the National Child Care Association, and the Council for Professional Recognition. These organizations offer credentialing, licensure, and designations following completion of course work, seminars, and informational programs.
Advancement for child care providers is dependent upon organization of employment and level of education. Many providers within child care centers begin entry level employment and advance to bachelor or master’s degree programs to qualify for managerial, supervisory, or administrative positions. Providers who work for private families often begin employment within referral agencies and advance to positions within day care centers and preschools upon gaining relevant experience and formal training. Some child care providers who gain experience, complete required training, and secure adequate funding may advance to open a self owned day care center.