Developing and Strengthening Staff Competence in Individualizing Care

Teacher overseeing children with musical instruments.To individualize care for infants and toddlers effectively, education staff require:

  • Knowledge of child development and the typical sequence of development in the five central Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains
  • Firm understanding of attachment theory and belief in the significance of supporting infant attachment
  • Deep understanding of each child, gained through informal observation, ongoing child assessment, and ongoing, engaged dialogue with children’s families
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • High degree of self-awareness
  • Knowledge of strategies for individualizing care

Individualizing care also requires time, effort, and practice. Infants and toddlers benefit when teachers, home visitors, and family child care providers receive:

  • Planned professional development opportunities that focus on topics such as:
    • Infant and toddler development
    • Foundations of school readiness
    • Importance of adult-child relationships and attachment
    • Observation, ongoing child assessment, and use of assessment results to individualize care
    • Responsive care practices and how individual characteristics such as the child’s age, abilities, needs, interests, temperament, home language, and family culture may impact responsive care
    • Creating and maintaining appropriate environments
    • Supporting infants and toddlers who are dual language learners
    • Supporting infants and toddlers with suspected delays and identified disabilities
    • Engaging families to support children’s development and learning
    • Cultural awareness and sensitivity
    • Primary caregiving
    • Continuity of care
  • Ongoing coaching, mentoring, and reflective supervision
  • Regularly scheduled and dedicated time and space for reflecting, planning, and communicating with families

See 45 CFR §1302.92(b)(1)-(5) and (c)(1)-(5). Also, see the Appendix for questions about individualizing care to use as discussion starters with education staff and other program leaders.