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 Professor Rebecca White.
White 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 directors of some of the larger child-care programs," White 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, White 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.