Directing a child-care program is exhausting, not to mention complicated, so it is paramount that a dedicated, knowledgeable person oversees these operations, according to LSU AgCenter associate Cheri Gioe.
Gioe, who has experience in the field, says the parts of the day-to-day operations of running a child-care program are far too many to count.
"To compensate for some of the challenges, there are state standards for the director’s of some of the larger child-care programs," Gioe says, explaining, however, that these standards don’t apply to all child-care providers.
For example, the Louisiana Department of Social Services requires that any Class A child-care program serving more than 42 children must have a full-time director whose only duties are administrative.
Other minimum standards set by the state for a Class A program director require:
The director must be at least 21 years of age.
The director must participate in 12 hours of training annually. Three hours of that training must include state-approved health and safety topics.
The director must be certified in infant/child and adult CPR and pediatric first aid.
The director must have three written references on file with the Department of Social Services.
The director must undergo a criminal background check and have a copy of that report on file.
The director must have a statement of good health on file.
The director must meet at least one of the following qualifications: a diploma from a post-secondary technical college early childhood training program, approved by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; three years of experience as a director or staff member in a licensed child-care program or comparable setting plus six credit hours of training in child care, child development or early childhood education; an associate degree in child development or closely related area and one year of experience in a licensed child-care center; a child development associate credential and one year of experience at a licensed child-care center or comparable setting; a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with at least 12 hours of child development or early childhood education and one year of experience in a licensed child care-center or comparable setting; or a national administrator credential as awarded by the National Childcare Association and two years of experience in a licensed child-care center or comparable setting.
In addition to those state requirements for child-care center directors; Gioe says individuals running child-care centers need to possess personal characteristics that help make them effective leaders. She says child-care directors must:
Make others feel important by emphasizing their strengths and contributions.
Promote a vision that gives parents and staff members a clear idea of what the child-care providers are doing.
Treat staff members and parents as they would want to be treated. This includes a willingness to do the jobs staff members are required to do.
Admit mistakes, take care of them and learn from them.
Publicly praise people for their accomplishments but criticize them only in private.
Stay close to the action – be visible, talk to people, ask questions, observe how things are being handled and pitch in. Maintain an open-door policy and be available for anyone who wants or needs to talk.
Set goals and reward those who help to reach those goals.
Possess and exhibit a warm, caring, understanding, accepting attitude while not compromising values, policies or procedures.
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.