How Do I Become a Certified Child Care Provider?

Find out what education and training you'll need to become a certified child care provider. Learn about the types of credentials and professional organizations that issue them, and see what the requirements are to earn these credentials. Schools offering Child Care Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Child Care Provider?

Child care providers are people who are in charge of the safety and care of children when their parents are unavailable. While the tasks vary depending upon the age of the children and the environment, they typically include such things as maintaining hygiene, developing schedules and routines, planning and implementing explorative, active, or play activities and monitoring developmental progress.

There are a number of occupations which fall under the general category of child care provider. Babysitters are typically hired part-time to care for children at several family homes. Childcare center workers may help preschool teachers and/or work in programs such as Head Start. Nannies, like babysitters, work in the family's home, but typically work full time for only one family and may even live in the household with the family. The information below may be important and contains details about becoming a child care provider.

Degree Required High school diploma, associate's preferred for some positions
Education Field of Study Early childhood education, child development
Key Duties Watches and works with pre-school age children
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%* (for all childcare workers)
Median Salary (2015) $20,320* (for all childcare workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Decide Which Credential is Right for You

There are two nationally recognized credentials for child care providers: the Child Development Associate (CDA) designation, administered by Council for Professional Recognition (www.cdacouncil.org), and the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) designation, administered by National Child Care Association (www.nccanet.org). These designations are generally considered to be equivalent; however, each have different education and experience requirements. Check with each organization to get a feel for what they offer; this could help you make your decision between CDA and CPA certification.

There are four types of CDA credentials, including preschool, infant/toddler, family child care and home visitor. Each credential has the same requirements and each need to be renewed after three years. After your first renewal, you'll be required to renew every five years. The Council for Professional Recognition also allows CDAs to earn a credential in a second area. The CCP credential is primary geared toward teachers with or without college degrees. Earning a CDA might qualify you for a child care provider license in some states.

Pursuing the CDA Credential

As a candidate for the CDA credential, you must demonstrate competency in establishing a safe and healthy learning environment, helping children develop physical and intellectual abilities, supporting a child's social and emotional development, creating positive family relationships, running a child care program efficiently and maintaining a professional attitude. After you take an examination, a council will review your submissions and determine whether you have met the necessary criteria.

You'll need a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development) certificate to apply for the CDA credential. Additionally, you'll need 120 hours of training in early childhood education and 480 hours of work experience; your work experience should reflect the age group or setting for which you're applying. You'll also need to complete a professional portfolio and teach in a classroom under the observation of an adviser.

Pursuing the CCP Credential

In order to obtain the CCP credential, you'll need 180 hours of continuing education (CE) credit; you could earn these credits by taking college courses or attending child care conferences. You'll also need 720 hours of teaching experience and a professional portfolio. You'll take an exam, be observed in the classroom and undergo a formal review. After you receive the credential, you'll have to complete 20 hours of CE every two years.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Like some child care providers, preschool teachers might work in childcare centers or other organizations, or as an extension of a public or private elementary school. Some preschool programs require a bachelor's degree, while in others, a high school diploma and certification is sufficient. Similarly, a teaching assistant usually needs some college completion, but not necessarily a degree. Teaching assistants help out in formal school classrooms in a similar way that child care providers help out in preschool classrooms.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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