Professional development refers to the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills that relate to current job duties and allow for growth along a career path. It encompasses all types of learning opportunities, ranging from formal coursework in college, workshops, and conferences to more informal learning opportunities that might occur within the Head Start, child care, and other early education settings.
The Office of Head Start requires a minimum of 15 clock hours of professional development per year for all staff (45 CFR §1302.92).
Staffing can be a perennial challenge for any employer, especially in early childhood education. A strong professional development program is a means to address this challenge. Successful recruitment efforts, highly qualified staff, and greater staff retention are among the benefits.
The information and tools in this section are intended for several audiences:
- Head Start administrators who plan for, advise on, supervise, and track employees’ certifications, educational achievements, and completion of learning opportunities
- Human resources and program directors, representatives of professional development systems, professionals in higher education, and other stakeholders who create professional development opportunities for the early care and education workforce
- Individuals working in early childhood education who want to learn more about their own career development and the professional development systems that are available to them
This section also provides easy access to training resources that support professional development.
Individualized Professional Development (iPD) Portfolio
Explore the iPD Portfolio, an online platform that offers accessible, self-paced modules based on staff roles and interests in Head Start and child care settings.Learn More
Head Start Staff Qualifications
It's important for all Head Start/Early Head Start Staff, consultants and contractors to have sufficient knowledge, training, experience and competencies to fulfill the roles of their position.Learn More
Credentialing and Degree Programs Databases
Make use of these resources to help Head Start family services staff find credentialing, certificate, and degree programs that can help them advance professionally.Learn More
Individualized Professional Development Plans
Success in any career requires the continued development of skills and knowledge. Explore tools and resources to help supervisors develop effective plans with staff.Learn More
Resource Type: Topic Page
National Centers: Office of Head Start
Last Updated: November 3, 2023