The response to this question is in two parts. The first is infant and toddler specific. The second is concerned with general staff development considerations. These two responses, when combined, address effective infant and toddler staff development opportunities.
Infant and Toddler Considerations
The years of birth to three are times of rapid development and growth unique to this age. There are specific considerations for staff development experiences designed to further knowledge and skills for those providing services to infants, toddlers, pregnant women, and families. These considerations are based on the vulnerability and resiliency of infants and toddlers in addition to the developmental tasks of trust and autonomy formation. Building relationships is a unique process that takes time and support in the formation of trusting, meaningful relationships.
Staff development opportunities for Early Head Start programs need to take into consideration the unique characteristics of infants and toddlers. If staff development experiences continually address issues related to birth to five years of age, they may compromise and dismiss the unique developmental concerns of infants and toddlers. See the Considerations section for questions to raise as programs implement the Head Start Program Performance Standards, develop training plans, and seek to incorporate best practice and highest quality into their Early Head Start services.
Two critical considerations to effective staff development are the purpose and approach, or the content and process. The purpose of staff development opportunities is to increase the knowledge and skill of staff to provide high quality services. To be most meaningful, the content of staff development must build on previous learning and connect to professional development plans, strategic goals, and overall philosophy. The approach or strategies (mentoring, small group discussion, role play, lecture, etc.) to staff development influences the extent of change in staff knowledge and skills. To deliver the most effective staff development, the presenter needs to understand and incorporate adult education and learning principles into the staff development experiences.
Infant and Toddler Issues
How does the program train staff on infant/toddler development in general? How are staff prepared to respond to the unique needs of the different stages of infancy: young infants, mobile infants, and toddlers? Tip Sheet 10
How does the program train staff on screening, assessment, evaluation & follow-up for infants and toddlers? HSPS 1304.20(b)& (c), Tip Sheet 6
How does the program train staff on curriculum and individualization issues? HSPS 1304.3(a)(5), 1304.21(b)(3), Tip Sheet 10
How does the program train staff on observation skills?
How does the program train staff on health needs specific to infants and toddlers? 45 CFR 1304.20
What staff and parent training opportunities exist on issues related to infant/toddler nutrition and feeding practices? 45 CFR 1304.23(b)(1)(iv)(vii), 1304.23(c)(4)(5) & 1304.23(e)(2)
How does the program train for and support the work with infants and toddlers with special needs? How does this occur in general and for specific children and families within the program? 45 CFR 1304.21(a)(1)(ii)
How does the program train staff on continuity of care and transitions-within-daily-routine issues? 45 CFR 1304.21(b)(1)(i) & 1304.24 (a)(1)(ii-iv)
How does the program prepare staff to plan and support transitions of children and families into and out of EHS services?
How does the program plan and schedule staff development events while maintaining continuity of care and a full day/full year program? 45 CFR 1304.21(b)(1)(i)
How does the program train staff on mental health issues, in general and specific to infant/toddlers and families? 45 CFR 1304.24(a)(1)(i-vi)
How does the program understand and promote the formation of relationships that meet the social-emotional needs of infants and toddlers? 45 CFR 1304.21 (b)(1)(ii) & 1304.21(b)(2)(i)
How does the program provide training and support for the promotion and formation of parent-staff relationships? How are staff prepared for and supported to respond to the unique needs of parents? 45 CFR 1304.24(a)(1)(i-vi), 1304.21(a)(2)(i-iii) & 1304.21 (b)(1)(ii)
How does the program provide additional support or training for parenting needs specific to their program i.e. teen parents, incarcerated parents, foster care, or grandparent care?
How does the program train for and support the work with pregnant women and expectant families? 45 CFR 1304.40(c)(1–3)
What procedures and practices does the grantee have in place to ensure hygienic and sanitary routines, for example during meals or diaper/bathroom times or sterilizing toys and materials, etc? 45 CFR 1304.22(e)(5)
What staff and parent training opportunities exist on issues related to safety (SIDS, Shaken Baby Syndrome, etc.)? 45 CFR 1304.53(b)(3)
What staff and parent training opportunities exist on infant/toddler dental needs and/or issues (swabbing gums, use of pacifiers, prevention of oral decay such as bottle mouth, etc)? 45 CFR 1304.20 (c)(3)(i)(ii)
(From Developing a Head Start Training Plan)
Does the staff development opportunity
- Build on prior staff development?
- Address diverse learning needs?
- Build on staff strengths?
- Connect to short and long range planning goals?
- Spend staff development funds effectively?
- Linked to college credit as appropriate?
Program Performance Standards, Title 45, Code of Federal Regulations:
- 1304.52(k)(1) – (3) Training and development
- Grantee and delegate agencies must provide an orientation to all new staff, consultants, and volunteers that includes, at a minimum, the goals and underlying philosophy of Early Head Start and/or Head Start and the ways in which they are implemented by the program.
- Grantee and delegate agencies must establish and implement a structured approach to staff training and development, attaching academic credit whenever possible. This system should be designed to help build relationships among staff and to assist staff in acquiring or increasing the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill their job responsibilities, in accordance with the requirements of 45 CFR 1306. 23
- At a minimum, this system must include ongoing opportunities for staff to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the content of the Head Start Performance Standards.
Head Start grantees must provide pre-service training and in-service training opportunities to program staff and volunteers to assist them in acquiring or increasing the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their job responsibilities. This training must be directed toward improving the ability of staff and volunteers to deliver services required by Head Start regulations and policies.
Head Start grantees must provide staff with information and training about the underlying philosophy and goals of Head Start and the program options being implemented.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (2002) Head Start Bulletin: Professional Development, Issue No. 72
(1999) Early Head Start Program Strategies: Staff Development. Early Head Start National Resource Center @ ZERO TO THREE: Washington, DC.
Training Guides for the Head Start Learning Community
(December 1994/January 1995) Educating and Supporting the Infant/Family Work Force: Models, Methods, and Materials. ZERO TO THREE Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 3.
(June/July 1999) The Quest for Quality in Infant/Toddler Child Care. ZERO TO THREE Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 6.
U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Head Start Bureau (1994) Developing a Head Start Training Plan
Program Instruction: ACYF-PI-HS-99-03: Quality Improvement Funds to Increase the Number of Teacher with College Degrees
Revised 11/03; 10/03