Professional Development

Professional Qualifications and Development in Family Child Care

A man helps a child get a ball out of a bucket

Excellence in early childhood programs is built on a workforce that promotes continuous program improvement. Professional qualifications guide the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are essential to sustain quality learning experiences for families and children. Professional development is a cornerstone of this process. It includes gaining new experiences and competencies that relate to one's career, job responsibilities, or work environment. Resources are available to support programs and staff as they meet applicable qualifications and engage in professional development opportunities.

Head Start Education Requirements for Family Child Care Providers

Head Start programs must ensure all staff, consultants, and contractors have sufficient knowledge, training, experience, and competencies to fulfill the roles and duties of their position. These educational requirements and skills differ between the program's many roles and positions. Explore the requirements for two key positions in the family child care program option:

Head Start and Early Head Start agencies must ensure they have qualified staff in accordance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS). The HSPPS include equivalency provisions for some staff roles at 45 CFR §1302.91, Staff qualifications and competency requirements. Local agencies have flexibility in determining and justifying how their employees meet them. These steps can help guide agencies in the credential or degree equivalency process.

Credentialing and Degree Programs Databases for Head Start Staff Who Work with Families
Find the latest credentialing, certificate, and degree programs in your state. Three databases help Head Start staff who work with families locate professional development and educational opportunities to meet HSPPS 45 CFR §1302.91(d) and (e)(7). Explore career pathways in social work, human services, family services, counseling, and related fields.

Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential Materials

Use the following Council for Professional Recognition resources to support the family child care provider qualifications requirement outlined in 45 CFR §1302.91(e)(4):

Career Pathways Supports

Early Educator Central
Find links to low- and no-cost online course work developed with federal funds. Early Educator Central offers career pathways to support essential knowledge based on role and teaching supports. Many courses align with CDA credential subject areas.

Successful Inclusion of Family Child Care Providers in Higher Education Degree Programs and Courses: A Research-to-Practice Guide [PDF, 466KB]
Discover strategies, tips, and resources on how to successfully include family child care providers in higher education degree programs and courses in early childhood education.

Relationship-Based Competencies (RBCs) to Support Family Engagement

The RBCs were developed using research and recommended practice across many fields working with families from pregnancy through the early childhood years. They are consistent with specific state core knowledge and competencies and other preparation resources for the early childhood workforce. The RBCs are aligned with the HSPPS and the 2016 Child Care and Development Fund Final Rule.

The RBC materials include assessment tools for staff and supervisors. Use them to measure progress in each competency and identify areas for professional growth:

Individualized Professional Development (iPD) Portfolio

The iPD Portfolio is an online platform created to support ongoing professional development for staff in Head Start and child care settings. It contains accessible, self-paced courses based on staff roles and interests. Some course content aligns with CDA credential subject areas. Upon completion of each enrolled course, users receive continuing education units or a certificate of completion toward their ongoing professional development.

Self-Care and Reflective Practice

Stress is natural and may seem inevitable. When caregivers feel stressed, young children are likely to absorb those feelings. Stress can also take a toll on your health and effectiveness as an early childhood educator or parent. It impacts the quality of care you can give. When you are too stressed, it is difficult to offer the praise, nurturance, and structure that children need. Taking time to care for yourself and participate in reflective practices help us to work more effectively and contribute to better outcomes for children and families.

Use the resource below to promote self-care and stress management: