Cheri M. Gioe, White, Rebecca E., Merrill, Thomas A.
Two of the most frequently asked questions by parents when visiting child-care programs are "What type of training does your staff participate in?" and "What educational backgrounds do your staff members have?"
"According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the child-care industry as a whole has minimal, if any, training requirements," LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe points out. "On the other hand, most states have established educational or training requirements, but these vary greatly depending on the state and individual child-care program."
Gioe said training requirements tend to be the most stringent for directors or administrators of child-care programs and minimal for child-care employees and teaching assistants.
In Louisiana, the state Department of Social Services requires that child-care workers employed by Class A child-care programs participate in 12 hours of training each year pertaining to the development of young children, child-care environments or early childhood education. In addition to those 12 hours, employees must have three hours of training related to health and safety issues.
Along those lines, another requirement for child-care centers also requires even more staff training. That requirement mandates that half of the staff on site during business hours must be certified in infant/child/adult CPR and first aid.
As for child-care workers employed by Class B child-care programs in Louisiana, they must participate in six hours of training related to the development of young children, child-care environments or early childhood education each year. In their case, three of the six hours may count toward mandatory health and safety training. And half of the staff members present at these centers also must be certified in CPR and first aid.
In addition to those requirements, Gioe said the state requires child-care workers employed by both Class A and Class B centers in Louisiana to participate in an annual orientation or review of policies and procedures. They also must attend at least four staff meetings per year. Newly hired employees must participate in an orientation and have four days of documented supervision prior to working alone in a classroom.
While Louisiana does not have a minimum education requirement for child-care employees, many child-care programs do offer incentives for employees to work on certifications such as child development associate credentials or associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees, Gioe said.
"The U.S. Department of Labor reports that job openings in the child-care industry are numerous – primarily as a result of high turnover due to few or no benefits, low pay and stressful working conditions," Gioe pointed out, adding, "The Louisiana Department of Social Services Office of Family Support has recognized this trend and funded a program last year designed to counter it."
In an effort to help reduce child-care employee turnover and to offer incentives to child-care employees and family child-care providers, the Office of Family Support funded a grant in 2003 for the formation of Louisiana Pathways. Louisiana Pathways is a career development system that tracks the training and education of child-care employees and family child-care providers.
"Even more, in addition to tracking training and educational advancement, the organization motivates child-care professionals to further their education by offering scholarships for certifications, degrees and program accreditations. For more information about Louisiana Pathways, call (800) 245-8925.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.