ERIC Identifier: ED281608
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Eheart, Brenda Krause
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL.
Training Day Care Providers.
As more mothers of young children participate in the work force, the
provision of quality day care is rapidly becoming a major concern for early
childhood educators, researchers, licymakers, employers, and parents. A key to
quality day care is the provision of specific training in child care for
caregivers. Both the National Day Care Study (Ruopp, Travers, Glantz, & Coelen, 1979) and the National Day Care Home Study (NDCHS) (Divine-Hawkins,
1981) conclude that training is a powerful index of competence for caregivers
and is strongly and positively linked to program quality. While few would
dispute the conclusions, there are debates to be resolved related to day care
Before training can be implemented effectively, a common understanding of
what is meant by day care training is needed. Authors of the NDCHS concluded,
"The specifics of training proved to be one of the most difficult dimensions of
professionalism to tap" (Singer, Fosburg, Goodson, & Smith, 1980, p. 173).
Precise variables to assess the type, intensity, and duration of training have
not been constructed. Consequently, we know very little about what types of
training can be most effective in promoting children's development in day care
In developing clearer and more precise definitions of training, we are
confronted with issues related to credentialing. Day care teachers are employed
primarily in two settings: day care centers and day care homes. Recently,
however, they have begun to work in public school early childhood programs. Do
day care home providers need the same training as center-based caregivers? Does
the training of prekindergarten teachers need to differ from that of center- or
home-based caregivers and, if so, how? Currently there are no answers to these
Also at issue is the establishment of uniform, enforceable regulations. At
present there are no uniform standards for prekindergarten teacher
qualifications. Many argue that there is variation in the enforcement of
regulations and that 100 percent compliance is an unrealistic expectation.
Krause Eheart and Leavitt (1986) argue, however, that legislating training
requirements is one strategy to offset problems of enforcement and compliance.
"It does this in two ways. First, it can be assumed that trained caregivers
are providing at least minimal levels of quality care, and second, as is not the
case for other licensing standards, the concepts of compliance and enforcement
do not apply to training once it has been implemented" (p. 130).
Without an appropriate, uniform, and enforceable credentialing system the
professional status of day care workers will remain in question.
An issue closely tied to credentialing is how preschool age children should
be taught. Is a didactic, teacher-directed approach more effective, or is a
child-centered approach where the teacher's primary responsibility is to be
responsive and supportive better? Equally debated is what children should be
taught. Should programs emphasize basic academic skills, or should they provide
experiences that emphasize growth in all developmental areas: physical, social,
emotional, and intellectual?
Powell (1986), in a review of program models and teaching practices,
concludes that there may not be one best approach to teaching young children. He
suggests that we need to "focus on finding the best match between child and
program" (p. 66). Clearly, as we learn more about effective teaching practices
to be used with preschoolers, our teacher training programs will change.
AMOUNT OF TRAINING
The issues of teaching approaches and credentialing lead to the question of
how much specialized training is necessary for day care teachers. The answer
depends, in part, on whether discussion is focused on child care based in
centers, homes, or public schools. Most early childhood educators agree that
college-level preparation in early childhood or child development, with
supervised experience working with young children, is essential background for
center staff (NAEYC Position Statement, 1986). Currently, however, licensing
requirements in only eight states legislate specialized training for preschool
teachers (Young & Zigler, l986). The amount of college-level preparation or
the need to meet Child Develoment Associate (CDA) competency standards, when
legislated, usually relates to day care positions as teaching assistants,
teachers, or directors. Similarly, the National Academy of Early Childhood
Programs, the accreditation division of NAEYC, has established a voluntary day
care accreditation program which includes criteria for amount of training in
relation to job titles and levels of responsibility.
What requirements are necessary for teachers of 4-year-olds in public
schools? NAEYC strongly suggests that college-level preparation and experience
is essential for achieving developmentally appropriate early childhood programs.
Given this, how much preparation is necessary? It can be argued that if it is
necessary to have four years of college training to teach 5-year-olds in the
public schools, the same amount of training is necessary to adequately teach
4-year-olds. Many, however, have suggested that a degree from a child care
training program in a community college is adequate preparation (FEDERAL
REGISTER, 1985). Others, including Albert Shanker, president of the American
Federation of Teachers, argue that early childhood teachers need less
preparation than traditional four-year teacher certification and that
differences in training, jobs, and roles imply different salaries (l986, p. 2).
Perhaps the most debated issue is the amount of training necessary for day
care home providers. Family day care provides approximately two-thirds of the
child care in the country, yet Krause Eheart and Leavitt (1986) found in an
interview study of 150 providers that about one in every three providers had
training and that more than half of the providers did not want training.
Exacerbating this picture is the fact that 94 percent of all day care homes are
unregulated. Day care home providers see themselves as women who love and care
about children, but not as professionals. From their perspective, a love of
children and lots of patience are necessary qualifications -- training is not.
Sixty years ago, there were 157 nursery schools, nationwide. Early childhood
teachers did not need training to be considered effective because teaching was
considered an inherent art (National Committee on Nursery School, 1929). Today,
there are over 67,000 child care centers (National Association for the Education
of Young Children, 1986) and at least 1.8 million family day care homes
(estimated from the NDCHS in 1981), and training is recognized as essential to
the provision of quality day care. This recognition has been accompanied by the
emergence of many difficult issues issues related to training definitions,
credentials, approaches, and amount of specialized training. With day care
rapidly becoming an American institution & Whitebook, 1986), these training
issues must be addressed, questions answered, and conflicts resolved. Only then
can our children be assured of a quality day care experience.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Divine-Hawkins, P. FINAL REPORT OF THE NATIONAL DAY CARE HOME STUDY (DHHS,
Pub. No. 80-30287). Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1981.
FEDERAL REGISTER. Department of Health and Human Services, September 4, 1985:
Krause Eheart, B., and R. Leavitt. "Training Day Care Home Providers:
Implications for Policy and Research." EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH QUARTERLY
National Association for the Education of Young Children. "NAEYC Position
Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs
Serving Children from Birth to Age 8." YOUNG CHILDREN 41(1986):3-19.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. IN WHOSE HANDS? A
DEMOGRAPHIC FACT SHEET ON CHILD CARE PROVIDERS. #760. Washington, DC: National
Association for the Education of Young Children, 1986.
National Committee on Nursery School. MINIMUM ESSENTIALS FOR NURSERY SCHOOL
EDUCATION. National Committee on Nursery School, 1929.
Phillips, D. and M. Whitebook. "Who Are Child Care Workers? The Search for
Answers." YOUNG CHILDREN 41(1986):14-20.
Powell, D. "Effects of Program Models and Teaching Practices." YOUNG CHILDREN
Ruopp, R. R., J. Travers, R. Glantz, and C. Coelen. CHILDREN AT THE CENTER.
FINAL REPORT OF THE NATIONAL DAY CARE STUDY. Vol. l. Cambridge, MA: Abt
Associates, 1979. ED 168 733.
Shanker, A. "Teacher Union Chief Says Preschool Belongs in the Public
Schools." REPORT ON PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS 18 (September 3, l986):1-2.
Singer, J., S. Fosburg, B. Goodson, and J. Smith. FAMILY DAY CARE IN THE
UNITED STATES: RESEARCH REPORT. FINAL REPORT OF THE NATIONAL DAY CARE HOME
STUDY. Vol. 2. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Health & Human Services
Administration for Children, Youth & Families (DHHS) Publication (OHDF)
80-30283. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates, 1980.
Young, K. T., and E. Zigler. "Infant and Toddler Day Care: Regulations and
Policy Implications." AMERICAN JOURNAL OF ORTHOPSYCHIATRY 56(1986):43-55.