The Importance of Child Care In America

daycare in kansas city moThe Importance of high-quality child care cannot be overstated. It’s a major factor that keeps children healthy and safe. Proper childcare will help children develop the social, communicational and emotional skills – together with basic mathematical and pre-literacy skills and concepts – needed to succeed in school and the world beyond. Unfortunately, accessible daycare in Kansas City, Missouri can be tough to find.

Current State of Child Care in America

In the United States, The Kids Count Data Center revealed that about a third of children from birth to age 12 have both parents in the labor force. Because of this, about 15.7 million kids frequently spend time in the care of people that are not their parents. This makes the Importance of child care and the financial implications that accompany it a hurdle for numerous families to cross.

In addition, child care needs often become more intense the moment a child starts school. On average, schools close for about 29 days in a school year. This far exceeds the paid days for a regular American worker—and it does not include summer breaks.

Primarily, women carry the bulk of caregiving within a family and the paid child care industry. Placing value on the critical role caregiving plays in influencing early learning would increase opportunities and choices available to women and their respective families. Consequently, more parents would pursue additional training and education or they’ll join the labor force if child care is available. That’s not all, children would immensely benefit from getting the right child care and the culture shift caused by the new economic opportunities for their families 

According to Brain science, early experiences impact every aspect of a child’s development. Also, children need a safe and enriching child care setting to help develop foundational skills, which sets the stage for success in the future.

Benefits of Childcare

Finding the right child care program for a child and for parents is paramount to the development of any economy. Lack of proper child care affects families, children and every American that has a stake in the workforce and economy. Quality and affordable daycare help parents find a job retain a job for longer. Most importantly, quality child care supports healthy development and learning for a new generation. 

Statistics of Childcare in America

Presently, the American economy loses a shocking $57 billion yearly in wages, revenue, and productivity due to problems arising from child care. This figure doesn’t include the cost to families that forgo educational and job opportunities as they battle the day-to-day stress associated with making timely child care payments; finding the appropriate daycare options in areas with limited options or during periods when they aren’t available, or the child care arrangement completely falls through. 

A troubling fact is that the U.S can afford to invest in child care to meet the needs of families. Measuring the percentage of G.D.P. dedicated to child care, the U.S spends the third-lowest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations. 

Robust investment in child care would approximately cost the same figure as the present economic loss caused by not focusing on child care. In addition, it would enhance the quality of life for several American families while creating an equitable society where every child could enjoy early learning prospects.

Parents who have access to affordable and reliable child care will actively join the labor force. They’ll also suffer fewer interruptions in their career stemming from limited access to adequate child care facilities.

Options Available To Parents

Currently, most families have just three options to get daycare in Kansas City. The first option is for the parents to stay at home and personally take care of their children. However, this isn’t easy, as most families depend on two incomes to stay afloat. Besides, mothers are more likely to take time off paid work to take care of the child than fathers. This inadvertently worsens the lifetime earning gap of mothers. 

The second option is for the parents to pay for child services in Kansas City from their own pockets. As you would expect, this doesn’t come cheap for most families, as it consumes about 35.9% of the monthly budget of a low-income family. 

The third available option for families is to use state-funded or federal child care. Unfortunately, access to publicly funded child care programs is very limited. On a national level, three out of four children are not registered in a state or federal-funded pre-K program.

The growing phase of a child is a critical development period. When a child has access to high-quality child care from their early years, they often succeed in school and in other areas of life too. The brains of young children develop faster in early childhood when compared to other periods in life. It forms more than a million new neural connections each second. Infants understand their environment and absorb language through interactions with adults they trust. 

There are a number of potential options for child services in Kansas City, Missouri. Understanding the downsides, risks, and limitations of each option—and how these choices negatively impact working mothers and families— emphasizes the need for high-quality child care. So let’s explore the options in detail.

Stay At Home Parents

Some decades back, if you suggested that one parent stay at home and give up paid employment to take care of a child, no one would bat an eye. It even made sense both economically and culturally. This was because families used to live comfortably on one income. Also, women had been consigned to the domestic space traditionally. 

However, in the last 4 decades, due to economic and social advancements, most American families have experienced a massive change. Now, the workforce has to provide care, although it comes with evident risks.

Almost all parents now have to work, irrespective of their children’s age. Workers are parents and vice versa which is out of preference and necessity. An estimated 70.5% of mothers are in the workforce, as well as 64.8% of mothers with a child below six years old. In large part, this is because most families in the present economy depend on two incomes to offset bills. 

Now, daycare in Kansas City may cost as much as one parent’s salary. Hence, a worker’s choice to work part-time or leave the labor force to cover these costs may be a rational decision. Short-term economic burdens are often the reason why many women choose to stay at home and take care of their kids. Although, some mothers may decide to stay home for several other reasons. However, this choice also comes with consequences.

When compared to men, women are more likely to leave work entirely or reduce their work hours to take care of their children. This puts them at an economic disadvantage which soon becomes evident. Leaving the labor force – even for a few months – can have negative long-term costs for the career and lifetime earnings of a woman.

Women often take time off work to take care of their children. This is one of the reasons why the gender wage gap keeps plaguing the country. An estimated 10.5% of the differences in earnings of men and women can be linked to workforce experiences. 

Having access to adequate child care is important to a woman’s ability to contribute meaningfully to the labor force. In the same vein, lack of access to appropriate child care negatively affects the work-family balance of men and women. 

In both the short and long term, it is essential that women can make the best choices for themselves and their families. Having suitable access to affordable daycare options in Kansas City can help eliminate roadblocks that force mothers to make decisions that can negatively affect their children and family.

Personally Paying For Childcare Out Of Pocket

The second option for acquiring daycare in Kansas City is to use some of the family’s disposable income. In the past few years, child care costs have hit the roof, placing a lopsided burden on the budgets of several families. For millions of American families, it has become a nearly impossible task to pay for high-quality private child care.

In half of American States, child care costs exceed average rent payments. This means that several families with young kids struggle to make ends meet. The last year for which data was available for this fact was 2011. The average family with childcare payments with a working mother and children below 5 spent about 10% of their disposable family income on securing child care. 

Although this may not look like a severe burden, it amounts to about a quarter— precisely 22.5% —of the earnings of a married mother. This is more than a quarter of the income of an unmarried woman. 

Kansas City daycare costs are even more stressful for younger mothers. Presently, the average age for a mother to give birth to their first child in the U.S is around 26 years old.

It is not surprising that younger mothers often have lower incomes. Due to their age, there’s every chance that they’ve worked in the labor force for lesser periods. When compared to older mothers, they are likely to still be in school. 

But then again, this means that mothers below 25 years with a growing child paying for child care will spend about one-third i.e. 33%, of their earnings on getting care. Again, the reason is not farfetched; it’s simply because they earn less with no supporting income. 

It is extremely important that these women complete their education and gain the necessary work experience. Unfortunately, Kansas City daycare costs can make this an unrealistic prospect.

In reality, it is harder for women already living below the poverty line. According to statistics from American progress, an estimated 26% of working mothers living below the poverty line pay for child care from their disposable income. These expenses take about half (42.6%) of their earnings. 

It is important women get all the work support they need because seeking paid employment is one of the requirements for some government benefits. Also, employment is a vital pathway to breaking into the middle class. On the other hand, when child care is so expensive that it eats almost all their income, it places a heavy burden on these mothers.

For well-to-do families, paying for daycare in Kansas City may be affordable and simple. However, it’s not an option for most families, especially young and single mothers.

Using Subsidized or Publicly Funded Programs

The last option most mothers have to access child care is to go for subsidized or programs funded by the federal or state government. In truth, this may look like a viable option for families that don’t want to lose one parent’s earnings or for families that cannot afford private care, but the fact is that it is not. Unfortunately, the present reality is that Kansas City child services, along with the rest of the country, have a long way to go regarding publicly funded care programs. 

As it stands, only about 22% of kids from low-income families get subsidized child care from the federal government. This is in the face of increasing preschool enrolment across the country in the past years as children from low-income homes are less likely to join preschool programs. 

The damning stats also show that only 28% of children below four years old are in state-funded preschool programs, while only 4% of children below three years old are enrolled. Lastly, 40% of children aren’t enrolled in any preschool program at all. Evidently, what these stats show is that publicly funded Kansas City child care services that are available are not enough to cater to the needs of children, which is a significant problem

In truth, publicly funded child care programs come in handy for families with low-income and young mothers, but getting access is a huge problem. In a situation where families have access to them, the problem is that the quality is sometimes below the required standard. 

As luck would have it, it is not all doom and gloom for young mothers and families with kids, especially those in Kansas City, Missouri. Now, parents can enjoy the best child services in Kansas City, thanks to Child Care Aware.

About Child Care Aware of Missouri

Child Care Aware of Missouri is a non-profit that focuses on improving child services in Kansas City. The goal is to uplift the experiences of children in relation to their environment in their first 2000 days – or five and a half years. 

As we’ve stated earlier, proper child care goes a long way in aiding their development while also greatly benefitting families. This is a gap Child Care Aware fills perfectly and the best part is that it won’t cost your family an arm and a leg. Child Care Aware delivers the best services that center on improving a child’s experiences during their formative years. 

Located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, Child Care Aware targets the four core groups that suffer from not getting suitable childcare. These groups are the family unit, child care professionals, businesses and community stakeholders. 

Here are the roles Child Care Aware plays for these groups:

  • Child Care for Families

Child Care Aware enables families to find the right child services through their referral programs. This ensures that Kansas City families have access to the daycare options they require. Also, they provide the required information to families and consumers of childcare through their in-depth and resource-filled website, together with community outreach.

  • Impacting Child Care Programs

The non-profit also partners with other daycare programs across Kansas City by helping them access resources. This way, they get and obtain more knowledge to help them improve their interaction with kids while aiding their development too. That’s not all, these businesses are provided with professional development opportunities to enable them to explore new frontiers. Also, Child Care Aware helps educate child care programs regarding the required business standards they need to enhance the sustainability and quality of their current business practices.

  • Workforce Child Care Services 

Child Care Aware, MO is a leading partner of the Child Care Professional Development System in Missouri. In this regard, they train the child services workforce of Kansas City, and they implement wellness and health practices within the settings of early childhood. In addition, they also manage the T.E.A.C.H. Missouri Scholarship Program, which gives children the education they need to be thoughtful, happy, and healthy individuals. 

Child Care Aware is a full-time advocate of improved professional development systems, and they engage in improving all child service efforts across Kansas City.

  • Collaborative Community Partners

Child Care Aware also engages in important conversations with stakeholders in the community. They also take it a step further by engaging business and legislative leaders within Missouri on the benefits derived from high-quality child care and its Importance to both young children and their families. 

In conclusion, finding daycare services in Kansas City, Missouri shouldn’t be a hassle nor should it burn a hole in the pockets of parents. Thanks to Child Care Aware MO, parents are assured that the needs of their children are well taken care of while they go out to their respective jobs.  

How Child Care Aware of Missouri Assists Families with Early Childhood Education Needs

Interviewing daycares is not a task any parent undertakes lightly. It can be a confusing and challenging time for families as they try to decipher between the different types of facilities, payment assistance options, and learning modalities that each facility offers.

Whether you’re looking for a daycare in Ballwin, MO, a St. Louis County daycare, or a child care facility anywhere in the state, we’re here with you to find the perfect early childhood learning center for your child.

We emphasize parental choice and use our referral service to help connect families to the services they need, where they need them, and when they need them. 

Between our on-the-ground community outreach programs and our resource-filled online repository, you are sure to find the information you need to become a smart child care consumer.

Here we will discuss how to find the right daycare for your family using our website and resources. 

Child Care Aware – Who We Are

Child Care Aware of Missouri is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a member of the Child Care Aware® of America network. We focus on delivering services that improve the experience and environment of children in their first 2,000 days. 

We work for four main groups throughout the State of Missouri:

  1.       Families
  2.       Child Care Professionals
  3.       Businesses
  4.       Community Stakeholders

Daycares that Work for Families in St. Louis County, Missouri, and Other Municipalities

When it comes to child care, parental choice is of the utmost importance to us. 

We work diligently to connect families to child care via our referral service.

It’s our goal to ensure you can find daycare services in Ballwin, MO, early elementary education in St. Louis County, Missouri, or whatever specific care service you need, where you need it, when you need it.

In this article, we will discuss portions of our resource-rich website that will assist you in your search for the perfect child care facility for your family.

Our Impact on Child Care Programs

Child Care Aware of Missouri works with child care businesses and daycares in Ballwin, Missouri, as we do throughout the state. We assist them in accessing resources, attaining professional development opportunities, and aid them with additional knowledge to help improve their interaction with, and in turn, the development of, your children. 

Child Care Solutions for the Workforce

We are a leading partner of Missouri’s Child Care Professional Development System. We provide training to the staff at St. Louis County daycares and at child care facilities in all other counties in the state. 

We also manage the T.E.A.C.H. Missouri scholarship program and implement health and wellness practices within the early childhood education setting. 

We are a champion for enhanced professional development, with your child’s best interest as the desired outcome from these trainings.

Child Care Aware of Missouri is a Collaborative Community Partner

We engage with legislative and business leaders and community stakeholders to help attain the highest quality early education for young children possible. 

Types of Licensures for St. Louis County Daycares

The sheer volume of daycare types alone is enough to make parents want to recoil with fear.  Not to worry, Child Care Aware of Missouri will help you find the perfect daycare in Ballwin, MO, or any other town or county in the state. 

Licensed Child Care Center

A licensed child care center is a group of more than 20 children who are cared for at a separate facility. Often, this type of center has children grouped in classrooms by age.  

Licensed Group Child Care

These daycares are groups of 11-20 children either in a separate facility or an area separate from the educator’s living quarters.

Licensed Family Child Care Home

A licensed family child care home of up to 10 children, cared for in the child care educator’s own home. 

License-Exempt

A religious organization runs many of these programs. Preschool programs operate no more than 4 hours per day.

Exempt

Exempt status is for summer camps, schools, and day programs, among others. When six or fewer children are cared for in the child care educator’s own home, the program is also exempt. 

The Difference Between Licensed Programs, License-Exempt Programs, and Exempt Daycares in St. Louis County and all of Missouri

It’s great knowing what each type of daycare center is, but what exactly does all this mean?

Let’s briefly walk through the difference between types of licensure for daycares in Ballwin, Missouri, and the rest of the state.

You can also find all licensing reports for all Child Care Aware of Missouri referrals, including daycares in St. Louis County and daycares in Ballwin, Missouri.

Licensed Programs

These daycares have routine fire, sanitation, and health inspections, ensuring that the daycare in Ballwin, MO, that you find will always be up to snuff.

Licensed programs also require a licensing inspection and are required to follow Missouri’s child care licensing rules that regard ratios, group sizes, and training.

License-Exempt Programs

These daycares in St. Louis County and elsewhere in Missouri have a routine fire, sanitation, and health inspections (learn more here), but they do not require a licensure inspection.

Additionally, they are not required to follow licensing rules as previously discussed, including ratio, group size, and staff training. 

Exempt Programs

These daycares in Ballwin, Missouri, and the rest of the state, do not have a fire, sanitation, or health inspections overseen by the state. They do not have licensing inspections typically not included in the Child Care Aware databases. 

You will only see Exempt Programs listed in our database if they have met Child Care Aware of Missouri’s listing standards, including health and safety certification, agreement to use safe sleep practices, and a Family Care Safety Registry background check. 

How Child Care Aware of Missouri Can Assist You in Finding Quality Daycare in St. Louis County

Finding affordable, reputable child care is a daunting task for any parent or guardian. Ensuring that our children are in safe, capable hands while you are not with them is of the utmost importance. 

Child Care Aware of Missouri is here to help. We have positively impacted over 10,000 families, 8,000 early childhood educators, and 138,000 children in 2020 alone, making us a distinguished member of Missouri’s early childhood education sector.  

From locating a suitable daycare in St. Louis County to finding resources to assist with payment to questions to ask potential daycares, Child Care Aware of Missouri has you covered from start to finish.

Resources Child Care Aware of Missouri Offers

When you navigate our website, you can see how many resource options we offer for finding a daycare in Ballwin, Mo., St. Louis County, or in the entire state of Missouri itself.

In addition to the navigation feature, which we will discuss shortly, we offer a robust online resource center to answer any questions you may have, day or night. 

Child Care Terms

To make an intelligent decision on the right daycare in Ballwin, Missouri, or any other town in Missouri, for your family, you need to know what each daycare offers and what those specific offerings mean. 

We offer users a glossary of sorts on this portion of the site to help parents and caregivers understand the difference between licensure types, child care payment assistance information, child care types, and much more.

If you need to understand what a specific St. Louis County daycare or child care facility anywhere in the state offers but are unsure of the technical jargon, this is where you should check first. 

Child Care Financial Assistance

We include various financial assistance options that you can select from and see if you qualify for, along with the description of each type of assistance option and what it entails. 

You can also click the link to follow and complete your application to see if you qualify.

There is also a link here to reach your D.S.S. Profile Access and links to Military Family Resources and State Payment Assistance.

For example, if you find a daycare in Ballwin, MO, that you’ve fallen in love with but are unsure how to swing the payments, start here first.

Community Resources

Search by category or county, or both! Locate early child care resources, basic essentials, family resources, and more. Start here if you’re new to the area and looking to understand the ins and outs of daycares in St. Louis County, Missouri. 

Explaining Financial Assistance for Daycares in St. Louis County, Missouri

It’s no secret that finding a good daycare in Ballwin, Missouri, or any other town or city in the country is at an all-time high right now. The good news is that Child Care Aware of Missouri is here to help you understand your financial options.

Parents are often faced with a double-edged sword when it comes to child care. You need to work, so you need to send your child to a daycare, but at the same time, most of your paycheck goes towards those services each week.

Let’s explain what financial options exist and how to determine your eligibility.

  1.     Subsidy

The Missouri Subsidy Assistance System works with Missouri families across the State to help them afford child care. Eligibility is dependent upon family size and income.  Learn more about subsidy assistance in Missouri here.

2.      Sliding Scale

A sliding scale system is utilized within the subsidy system to determine the expense families will pay for St. Louis County daycare (or whichever municipality you reside in), based on family size and income.

3.      Copayment

The Copayment (or co-pay) is the remaining cost of care due to the parents or guardians after subsidy payment and sliding fees are applied. This method of financial assistance is similar to how your co-pay at a doctor’s office works after your insurance pays its portion.

4.      Multi-Child Discount

Not all daycares and child care programs offer a multi-child discount. Still, some daycares in Ballwin, Missouri, St. Louis County, Missouri, and other municipalities will offer a discount for enrolling more than one child — so it’s always worth it to ask!

5.      Income-Based Payment

Some daycares in St. Louis County, Missouri, and elsewhere charge families based on their income. In this method, the individual daycare works with families to determine what they can pay based on income.

6.      Scholarships

Some child care programs have the funding to offer scholarships to children. Eligibility is based on the individual daycare or child care program.

7.      Military Family Resources

For St. Louis County daycares and other counties in the state, there are financial options available to military families and programs to assist children and families of active-duty members and veterans. To learn more about this resource, please call us at 1-800-424-2246 or email us at [email protected]

8.      State Payment Assistance

Visit the Missouri Department of Social Services to check your family’s eligibility and/or apply for financial assistance for daycare in Ballwin, Missouri, daycares in St. Louis County, Missouri, or any other daycare facility that suits your family’s needs.

9.      DSS Profile Access

Click HERE to access your DSS Profile. You can check your subsidy application and case status through this link, update a DVN, and make all other changes to your account. 

Making a Difference in the Early Childhood of Missouri’s Next Generation

Child Care Aware of Missouri has a special responsibility. We are tasked with educating and building awareness in families, educators, community stakeholders, and local businesses about early childhood learning and best practices. 

For the year 2022, we have four main focus areas for our advocacy which we will briefly discuss below. We encourage parents and guardians of children in daycares in St. Louis County, Missouri, daycares in Ballwin, Missouri, or daycares anywhere else in this great state to learn more about our child care ambassador program!

1.      To Assist Families and Educators in Advocating on Their Own Behalf

We want to spread knowledge to families across the State of Missouri that gives them the power to speak up for themselves when they know something isn’t right. We offer access to our advocacy toolkit, which helps your understanding of what we are speaking up for.

2.      To Engage and Mobilize Key Legislators Who Will Champion Affordable and Accessible Child Care for Families and a Significant Wage Increase for Educators

Our aim here is to advocate for increasing access to early care and education for parents and children. Another key goal is to inform key legislators and policymakers on the importance of increasing workforce compensation and increasing the capacity of daycares in Ballwin, MO, and all other regions of the State. Lastly, we aim to highlight policies and processes to ease the financial burden of child care on families.

3.      To Reduce the Stigma Associated with the Early Childhood Profession

We plan to create and sustain access for early childhood educators to higher education through the T.E.A.C.H. MISSOURI scholarship program and the C.D.A. scholarship program. 

Secondly, we aim to maintain the involvement of decision-makers by elevating the public profile of the child care workforce and wage compensation by disseminating information on the achievements of the early childhood workforce.

4.      To Support the Early Social and Emotional Development of Young Children

We plan to attain this goal by advocating for ongoing financial support and access to higher education and training regarding child safety, health, and well-being.

To address trauma and crisis, we will also increase the awareness of the need for social support networks for children, families, and educators in daycares in St. Louis County, Missouri, and the remainder of the state.

Lastly, we plan to advocate for the physical, social, and emotional well-being of children while under the supervision of child care educators.

Further Information or Assistance in Locating the Perfect Daycare in Ballwin, MO, St. Louis County, MO, or any other Location in the State

Child Care Aware of Missouri is always available to families for anything they need assistance with.

If you’d like to find more information on our events or donate to Child Care Aware of Missouri, you can find more information here.

We genuinely hope this article has helped shed some light on the multiple ways Child Care Aware of Missouri assists families in finding suitable daycare in St. Louis County, Missouri and Ballwin, Missouri. We also hope this has helped you know you’re not in this search alone.

We are here to help you every step of the way. We encourage you to take a look through the links included in this article and our website. For more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time, and one of our knowledgeable team members will return your message as soon as possible.

Child Development Scholarships in Missouri

Early childhood instructors are so important to our society. Missouri early childhood instructors cultivate ingenuity, knowledge, and sharing in the littlest pupils. Early childhood education programs equip prospective teachers with the skills to do that. Unfortunately, degree and diploma programs on early childhood education in Missouri aren’t cheap. The good news is there are many child development scholarship options available for people who are looking to get started in that field. If you’re considering entering the Missouri early childhood industry to become a preschool instructor or a childcare maven, here are pertinent child development scholarship opportunities to consider.

State-Sponsored Organizations

Missouri has dozens of government-approved and certified educational facilities that offer favorable and comfortable learning environments for preschool educators and childcare personnel. Learners can earn certificates as well as degrees, and many state-endorsed organizations offer financial support to students.

Missouri is among the 21 U.S. states enthusiastically partaking in Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.), which is a national organization created with the goal to deliver fairly compensated, expert, and polished early childhood educators. T.E.A.C.H. Missouri seeks to address two main concerns with Missouri early childhood education: High turnover rates and low wages for child care providers. It attempts to help solve these issues through increasing compensation and training for those providers, helping them achieve a higher level of job satisfaction and status. The project was launched precisely to help lift the excellence of training those undertaking child care curriculums get.

The scholarship is an agreement between T.E.A.C.H. Missouri, the Missouri early childhood learner, and the sponsor. This organization offers a few different kinds of child development scholarship opportunities. So, you can find the right program for you depending on the type of degree or program you’re pursuing.

Although the exact offerings will differ between the different programs, the T.E.A.C.H. Missouri will offer a bonus of $450 upon completion of most of them. That sounds pretty nice, right? The child development scholarship program’s goal is simply to support and advance early childhood education. The Missouri early childhood T.E.A.C.H. program also enhances retention rates for early childhood teachers.

The Federal Government

The United States Federal Government also has several financial aid programs designed to cater to the needs of students attending career schools and colleges. While every U.S. student is eligible for these programs, specific criteria are followed to choose suitable candidates for the loans. There are hundreds of government-approved loan and aid solutions provided by the Federal Government, which are easily accessible on the Federal Student Aid website.

The first type of financial support offered by the United States federal government is grants. There are a variety of grants offered by the government, including Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Pell Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. Grants don’t need to be paid as they’re offered freely to qualifying candidates. That makes them one of the more appealing options when it comes to federal financial aid.

If you’re already in college, you should also look into work-study opportunities on campus. Among the many federal government scholarships available for aspiring Missouri early childhood educators are the federal work-study program, which lets you get a part-time job to help pay for your expenses.

Working students or learners furthering their early childhood education career can also get child development scholarships in the form of student loans. It’s super important to fully understand what you’re getting into when you take out a loan. You’ll need to pay it back with interest once you’ve completed your degree. Federal student loans tend to have a lower interest rate than private ones. Depending on the specific scholarship you apply for, the dispensed loan amount caters to costs such as transportation, tuition and fees, supplies and books, and room.

Colleges

Missouri has hundreds of colleges and universities that offer child development scholarship programs. However, the type of scholarships provided by different Missouri colleges and universities differ between institutions. You won’t find as many universities offering specific Missouri early childhood scholarships, but many of their more generic offerings can be used toward an early childhood-related degree. You can compare dozens of scholarship opportunities at the student’s disposal to decide which one to select.

If you’re embarking on a college or university education, then you should definitely inquire about your scholarship options at all the different institutions you’re considering. Many of them will have merit-based child development scholarship programs. The Missouri early childhood scholarships that are available to you will likely differ depending on whether you’re pursuing an undergraduate or a graduate degree. Know your options.

The selection of Missouri early childhood scholarships to compare before deciding which to choose include, but are not limited to, Dean’s scholarships, transfer scholarships, regents scholarships, and trustees transfer scholarships. Many of these types of scholarships are offered to learners, including prospective Missouri early childhood educators, automatically or after applying for the programs. Don’t leave money on the table — make sure you thoroughly investigate all your options at your specific school

Child Care Aware of Missouri

Child Care Aware of Missouri is a branch of a national organization that seeks to advance the child care industry in a variety of ways. Whether that’s connecting families to the right resources for their children or getting child care professionals in touch with helpful resources like child development scholarship opportunities, Child Care Aware of Missouri aims to make sure everyone has what they need for our children to succeed.

One of the child development scholarship programs it helps administer has to do with the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. This well-known credential has been widely recognized for its ability to help willing Missouri early childhood tutors and students to advance their knowledge and career. The program empowers you professionally and personally, ensuring you can meet all the job requirements in modern markets.

By advancing your Missouri early childhood training with this program, your career options will increase. To qualify to apply for the CDA credential, you’ll first need to acquire a high school diploma, or you can be a high school junior or senior in a related Career and Technical Program. Then, you need to complete 120 hours of education in the eight different CDA subject areas as well as 480 hours of experience working with young children. Lastly, you’ll need to put together your professional portfolio.

CCAMO’s CDA Scholarship

The child development scholarship is something every child care specialist looking to advance their skills and knowledge in that field should consider. If you’re trying to earn your CDA credential through clock hours rather than college credit hours, this is the program for you. You can check out the requirements for that here

As long as you’re eligible and you go through all the necessary steps in the program, this scholarship program will pay for your application fee with the Council for Professional Recognition. Then, once you earn your CDA credential, the organization will give you $215. But that’s not all! If you stay at your original child care program for another six months, you’ll receive another $215.

Professional Associations

Several trusted professional associations have networked to push child development education further in Missouri. These professional groups include qualified teaching experts that network online or meet in person to discuss pertinent issues and support each other professionally and financially. Some associations meet and interact through networking events, conferences, live stream interviews, and online courses. In other associations, there are monthly meetings, job boards, industry blogs, and community activities.

These associations aren’t only made to discuss pertinent issues and push education a notch higher but also help you grow your resume and strengthen your profile. With these organizations, members learn more about the best job opportunities, strengthen their recommendation letters, and keep track of the latest trends in this field. Other top-leading Missouri early childhood professional associations provide scholarships.

For example, check out the American Montessori Society. It’s a leading non-profit organization with the goal to encourage using the Montessori teaching method. The association connects members looking to enhance the quality of education in early childhood schools through research and professional public policy. If you’re interested in this method of teaching and looking to attend one of the Society’s affiliated teacher education programs, then you could qualify for one of the child development scholarship opportunities they offer.

Rethink Scholarships

When you imagine a child development scholarship, you might only be thinking of help paying for university programs or other big, long education projects. However, when it comes to Missouri early childhood education, even short workshops or seminars can make a big difference. Look into your options in that department. When you belong to a professional organization, you might get free or discounted access to those sorts of learning events, as well as a whole host of other materials that can help you further your expertise in your chosen field.

This kind of financial help can be a good fit because of its specificity. Plus, you don’t have to commit to years of schooling to get a little boost in knowledge. If you’re already part of some national or Missouri early childhood professional organizations, of if you’re considering joining, definitely make yourself aware of any financial help they offer for any form of continuing education.

Business Early Childhood Scholarships

Established businesses have also started investing in advancing the quality of education provided in early childhood learning facilities. Businesses need top talent to push their growth a notch higher and increase their annual profits. Recent years have seen many businesses chipping in to provide scholarships to enable learners to further their education. Some businesses train learners and incorporate them into their operations after they are done with school life. Other businesses offer scholarships to support the education of early childhood tutors.

Athletic Scholarships

For those who are attending a college or university to earn a degree in a child care-related field, athletic scholarships might be a possibility. These kinds of future Missouri early childhood professionals that have a knack for sports can also get sponsored to further their education. Scholarships under the athletic category are numerous, and the amounts you can get to support your education are vast, as well. There are dozens of websites and online tools that allow you to search for athletic scholarships. The athletic scholarships cater to the financial needs of learners good at synchronized swimming, basketball, football, and most other sports, as well.

It’s good to understand that most athletic scholarships are made for students experienced and talented in certain sports. Besides, the scholarships are only applicable in specific colleges and universities. The scholarships can cover expenses such as food, tuition, board, and room costs.

Employer-Based Scholarships

Another common type of scholarship early childhood educators can get to pay for their learning costs is the employer-specific scholarship. These types of scholarships are made specifically for students of employees serving certain companies or organizations. The awards and the financial support awarded to the tutors depend on the employer and the needs of the employee’s children. There are many certified and credible organizations and employers all through Missouri that provide scholarships to their workers.

Check with your current employer to see if they have any programs along these lines. They might have a tuition reimbursement program or other type of child development scholarship offerings for you to take advantage of.

Find the right child development scholarships for you.

As an early childhood teacher or child care specialist in Missouri, it’s not always easy or cheap to further your education. Even if you’re not financially stable, you’ve got many child development scholarship opportunities to compare and decide between. You are in a better position to win higher and better scholarships if you’re talented in a specific area. The athletic-based or employee-based scholarships are pretty popular and reliable today. However, state-sponsored and nonprofit organizational scholarships in Missouri are also valid options. These are offered by a variety of well-known and credible state and non-profit organizations. Likewise, there are many professional associations in Missouri that offer scholarships to support the continuing education of early childhood professionals.

Debunking 8 Myths about Childcare in St. Louis

Childcare in St. Louis is an incredibly complex field. As such, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of myths swirling around about these sorts of settings and what all they entail — the general public just isn’t super knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the top daycares in St. Louis. And that’s okay! That’s where we come in. We’re here to set the record straight.

Many of the myths we’ll discuss here are also applicable to the broader state of the child care industry in the United States, not just childcare in St. Louis. We’ll cover these myths from both the family side and the child care professional side. So, no matter what brings you to this article about childcare in St. Louis myths, you should be able to find something that speaks to you. 

With all that out of the way, let’s get into it. Here are eight myths about childcare in St. Louis.

Myths for Families Considering Childcare in St. Louis

First, we’ll discuss all the prevalent falsehoods that many families that are considering childcare in St. Louis might believe.

Myth 1: Childcare in St. Louis is just glorified babysitting.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Child care professionals are well-trained in their field and are required to partake in a certain number of training hours each year. There are many regulations put in place by the state mandating the level of care, such as ratios between staff and children. There are safeguards in place to make sure that each childcare in St. Louis is providing the best possible care.

Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t do your own research. Choosing one of the top daycares in St. Louis is probably a safe bet, but even still, you should ask questions of the programs you’re considering. You’ll want to make sure your values and ideals align with theirs. You should also be able to tour the place before sending your child there. Make a list of what things are important to you and then compare it to the answers and information you get from your top daycares in St. Louis. 

Myth 2: There’s not enough structure in a child care setting.

Some people get the impression that kids who spend all day at the top daycares in St. Louis are just milling around as they please for eight hours or so. They worry that if they’re not providing the proper structure for their kids, no one will. 

Of course this isn’t true! For the top daycares in St. Louis to function, they need to stick to a schedule. This means having appropriately timed snacks, naps, outside play, and a whole host of other activities throughout the day. Children at the top daycares in St. Louis definitely have some freedom, but it’s misguided to say there’s no structure at all. 

If this is one of your top concerns, bring it up to the different child care providers you’re considering. They might even provide you with a sample schedule for your child’s age group. And even if they can’t, they should be able to have a chat about their philosophies toward a schedule or lack thereof. 

Myth 3: Friends or family are better choices than a childcare in St. Louis.

Now, everyone can make their own decisions here, and having a trusted loved one watch your child during the day can definitely make sense for a lot of families. However, this section is here to point out that it’s a flaw to assume that choosing a family member over a childcare in St. Louis is always going to be the best choice.

As we stated in a previous section, the child care professionals at the top daycares in St. Louis have extensive backgrounds and training in the field. They know what they’re doing. We’ll go over some of the training requirements and opportunities at the top daycares in St. Louis in the later sections aimed more toward child care professionals themselves. 

All that matters here is comparing your options. It’s true that child care costs a whole lot of money these days, and sometimes, the option to have a family member watch your children for free outweighs the merits of a child care professional. That could very well be the case in your situation. However, it’s simply important to note that keeping it in the family doesn’t mean it’s automatically a higher level of care. 

Myth 4: Kids in these programs don’t learn anything, they just play.

This one often goes hand-in-hand with the myth about lack of structure. People are under the impression that playing is just a way for the children in the top daycares in St. Louis to pass the time so they don’t get bored waiting for their guardian to come pick them up, or they’re just having fun. Nothing deeper than that.

The truth is that kids learn a lot of valuable things through playing. Motor skills are a big one, but there are also many important life skills that begin with playing. Plus, some of these child care programs are preschools, which help kids get ready for kindergarten in a variety of ways, including academically.

So, here are the two main takeaways from the truth about this myth: 1. Playing is a valuable thing for young children and 2. Child care is about a whole lot more than just playing!   

Myths for Child Care Workers

We’ve covered the main myths families looking for the top daycares in St. Louis might have when starting their search. Here, this section will cover all the common misconceptions people who are starting out in the child care field might harbor. 

Myth 5: Once I get hired at a childcare in St. Louis, I don’t need to participate in further training.

We already touched on this in one of the myths that families need to debunk, but it bears repeating here for obvious reasons. 

Yes, there are the mandatory training hours required by the state, but it’s also a good idea to pursue other types of continuing education. These sorts of courses and programs will make you look a lot more appealing to potential future employers. If you want to work at the top daycares in St. Louis, or if you have dreams of one day moving up the ladder and owning your own center, then you’re likely going to need more than just the bare-bones education.

The good news is that there are all kinds of opportunities for continuing education in this complex industry. You can check with the state to find a whole list of free training opportunities online. If you’re looking for something a little more involved than a simple one-time training seminar, then you might want to look into earning your CDA credential. And there are a whole lot more opportunities where that came from. 

Myth 6: The age of the children in the program doesn’t really matter; they’re all more or less the same. 

There’s a big difference between caring for an infant and caring for a two-year-old child. That should be pretty obvious. This myth might not be as pervasive as most of the other ones we’ve put on this list, but it still deserves to be disproven.

The important thing to remember is that if you want to work with infants, you’ll need to take extra and specialized trainings. Sleep safe training is a major requirement. The top daycares in St. Louis all understand this and only use the absolute best practices when it comes to caring for your children.

Even beyond the (perhaps obvious) special considerations you need to keep in mind when you’re working with babies, child care workers need to keep in mind developmental appropriateness with every age group. There are different programs that will teach you everything you need to know in that department, but you should be aware of what ages you’d like to work with, or are going to work with, and plan accordingly. 

Myth 7: Preschoolers are naturally so active that they’ll get plenty of movement without us focusing on it.

It may be true that preschoolers are active and don’t tend to sit still for long, but as the child care professional, you should still be trying to make sure they get different kinds of movement in their daily routines.

Much of this goes along with our previous point about how child care professionals at the top daycares in St. Louis need to make sure they’re offering developmentally appropriate activities and opportunities for the children in the program throughout the day. This is especially true of movement and exercise. It’s not like toddlers need to hop on the treadmill or hit the weights, obviously, but they do need to be given opportunities to grow their coordination, flexibility, and strength in a variety of ways with a variety of equipment. 

One program that can help the top daycares in St. Louis improve their offerings when it comes to movement is the MOve Smart program. A childcare in St. Louis, or anywhere in the state of Missouri, can apply to become recognized by MOve Smart — to achieve recognition, they need to prove that they meet certain requirements. You can find all of that here.  

Myth 8: Working in a childcare in St. Louis is easy. Anybody could do it.

It takes a certain personality type to be a high-quality child care provider. Patience is key. And as we’ve already reiterated numerous times at this point, a truly qualified child care provider has completed the necessary trainings and more, showing a true interest in this incredibly complex and important field. 

The exact requirements will vary from state to state and even from program to program. Nevertheless, it’s not a good idea to think you can just waltz into any of the top daycares in St. Louis and automatically get a job.

And as you’re probably already aware, people who work in childcare in St. Louis are notoriously underpaid. If you’re looking for an easy job that compensates you handsomely, you are definitely barking up the wrong tree with childcare in St. Louis. It’s a difficult profession, but it’s certainly a rewarding one. If you’re looking to get into it, just know that you’ll be directly responsible for getting young kids on the right track for the rest of their lives. That’s a huge responsibility and far from easy.

There you have it — eight child care myths, totally debunked.

There are probably a myriad more myths where these came from, but those are the major ones we wanted to address. Now that you’ve got the truth about childcare in St. Louis, you should feel more confident about your child care decision. And if you’re considering joining the child care field and any of these spoke to you, then hopefully you should be prepared to make a more informed decision about the future of your career. 

We hope we haven’t scared you off from finding more information about the top daycares in St. Louis. This is all a lot to take in. Just know that your decisions about childcare in St. Louis, whether from a career perspective or from a family perspective, should be as informed as possible. Now that you’ve made it to the end of this post, you should be well on your way to that goal.

If you need more resources about childcare in St. Louis or anywhere else in the state, we here at Child Care Aware of Missouri have got you covered. Our site has a lot of helpful information both for families and for child care professionals. You can use our database to find the top daycares in St. Louis, as an example, or you can read more about continuing education options in the child care field. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to help connect you with the resources you need to make sure all our children are well cared for.

Where can I find DSS approved daycare in Missouri?

Three children playing with toys in DSS approved daycareIt’s no easy feat to find the right kind of care for your child when you’re not around. We may all want to be the one watching them and nurturing them all the time, but that’s simply not feasible when we have jobs to do and life to live. Or, maybe you run some kind of child care facility and you’re looking to become a DSS approved daycare. You’re sure your practices are great and up to date, and you’re looking for official recognition of how well you do your job.

We’re here to give you some insight. Whether you’re looking for a DSS approved daycare to send your children to or you’re just trying to find some information on how to comply with state guidelines, we’ve got the information you need, and if not, we can always point you in the right direction. After all, the Child Care Aware phone number is just one call away — but more on that later. Here, we’re going to talk about all the different aspects of what you might be looking for if you’re searching for DSS approved daycare. Spoiler alert: Everything is not what it seems, and we’ll have to cover a lot of different topics to try to get at the root of what you need.

Before we get into that, though, we need to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Let’s define some important terms.

What is DSS?

You can’t find DSS approved daycare if you don’t know what DSS means. So, we figured this is as good a place as any to start. You might decide to dial to the Child Care Aware phone number for more information, or you could just read on.

DSS stands for Department of Social Services. This is a government department within the state of Missouri that handles, you guessed it, social services. Those types of things include public assistance, health care coverage, child welfare services, and specialized assistance to troubled youth. Part of providing those services includes combating fraud, waste, and abuse within those programs. Audits of Medicaid and compliance initiatives are both parts of that secondary mission, as is supporting law enforcement efforts to protect children. 

If you’re curious about how DSS is set up and organized, we have answers for you, too. There’s a governor-appointed and state senate-approved director. The director is in charge of choosing division directors to work with them.

This is all true for the state of Missouri and not necessarily anywhere else. If you’re looking for an equivalent at the federal level, you’d be looking for the Administration for Children and Families, which is within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Note that we haven’t listed DSS approved daycare anywhere in our list of what they do. There’s a reason for that. Read on to find out if DSS approved daycare is even something you should be looking for. And if you need more information than we end up providing here, you can always call the Child Care Aware phone number or do some more digging on our site.

Where can I find a DSS approved daycare in Missouri?

Now that we all understand what the DSS is, we can talk about the central question at hand. As it turns out, there isn’t a list of DSS approved daycares in the state. In fact, the licensing procedures go through the Office of Childhood, which lives within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, not the Department of Social Services. Tricky, we know. 

So, while it might seem like the Department of Social Services is the place to go for DSS approved daycare, there’s no official channel for them to confer that designation. This means that if you see a child care facility claiming to be a DSS approved daycare, they’re not being completely truthful. Find the Child Care Aware phone number and see if they can help you find a reputable facility instead.

Two forms of child services that definitely fall under DSS approved daycare, though, are the Head Start and Early Head Start programs. We’ll go over both of those in the next section.

Head Start and Early Head Start

These programs might count as DSS approved daycare, but they are so much more than that. They are federal programs aiming to improve the lives of children who might not have as many resources. Since they’re federally run, they’re not technically something DSS approves either, but they do fall under the Administration for Children and Families, which we mentioned earlier. 

Head Start tends to be a little more well-known than Early Head Start. If you’ve heard of it, then you don’t need the Child Care Aware phone number to call and ask what it is — you already know that it’s a program offering free preschool and other support for families that fall at or below the federal poverty line. Early Head Start is very similar. It serves infants and children up to age 3. 

Head Start and Early Head Start programs aren’t only child care programs. They endeavor to help the entire family. They offer home visits and all kinds of other services that go beyond the other kinds of child care we’ll discuss in later sections. 

If you think you might qualify for one of these programs, you’ll want to check them out. Your local Child Care Aware phone number might be a good place to start calling — their goal is to connect you with any resources you might need, and these programs definitely fall under that umbrella. If you’d rather skip the step of dialing the Child Care Aware phone number, you can see a list of all Missouri Head Start locations here.

If there aren’t DSS approved daycare facilities, where can I find reputable child care?

There are different resources out there for finding the right child care facility for your family. One of them is Child Care Aware of Missouri. You can peruse our website for a directory of child care facilities within the state that meet our requirements. Find your local Child Care Aware phone number and give us a call if that’s giving you trouble.

Of course, if you’re not looking for child care within the state of Missouri, you can find the Child Care Aware phone number for the branch that’s in your neck of the woods. You can also find their website if you’re more digitally inclined. They should have much the same resources available for you, and if they don’t, they should be able to refer you to somewhere that does. 

If it’s not through DSS, how does the state approve child care facilities?

As we mentioned earlier, licensing child care facilities goes through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE. The requirements depend on the type of child care program that’s being considered for licensing, and not all facilities need a license. The license-exempt child care facilities include religious preschools and non-religious programs that run for four hours or fewer per day. 

These kinds of programs need to have regular fire, sanitation, and health inspections by the state, and fully exempt programs (like summer camps or programs run by school systems) aren’t required to have any inspections. All other types of child care settings need to be licensed by DESE in the Show Me State, and if you call up the Child Care Aware phone number or visit our website, we have a directory of them. Here are the different categories those facilities might fall under and the requirements for each.

Family Child Care Home

This kind of program can only accommodate a maximum of ten children at a time. As the name suggests, these programs are run in the educator’s own home. Family child care homes need to be licensed by the state, which means they need to go through regular safety and licensing inspections. Those licensing inspections are there to make sure the program is following all the rules set out by the state, which includes stipulations like the number of children in the program at any given time as well as general safety concerns. The full list of rules is pretty extensive, so we won’t list them all here. Suffice it to say that family child care homes are held to fairly high standards, as are the remaining child care settings on this list.

Like the other kinds of child care we’ll cover in the next sections, if you’re interested in enrolling your child in a family child care home, you can look through databases or find the Child Care Aware phone number and give them a call. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Group Child Care Home

At first glance, this category of child care settings might not seem any different from family child care homes, which we just went over. However, group child care homes are held to different standards than family child care homes, even though they must also be licensed by the state. 

To be considered a group child care home, there needs to be separation between the educator’s living quarters and the area where they run the child care program. That might just be a separate wing of their home, or it might be in a completely different facility. Unlike family child care homes, group child care homes can accommodate up to 20 children at a time. 

There are specific requirements for the physical area where the children are cared for, like any licensed child care facility. There are also specific stipulations on ratios of staff to children as well as other concerns. We’ve already suggested calling your local Child Care Aware phone number for more information on any of this, and that stands for group child care homes, as well.

Child Care Center

This is the largest kind of licensed child care facility. They can accommodate more than 20 children (sometimes a lot more than that), and they are always run in a facility that doesn’t double as the main educator’s home. The children participating in one of these types of programs are typically separated into different classes or rooms according to their age.

The licensing rules governing child care centers are actually much the same as those for group child care homes. There are some differences, like the number of children that can be in the facility, but most of the other requirements are the same. 

If you have any more questions about the differences between your options for licensed child care facilities in the state of Missouri, the Child Care Aware phone number would be a great place to turn. We’ll be able to provide you with some relevant resources. 

So, this has been your basic primer on the licensed child care facilities in the state of Missouri.

You may have started out looking for DSS approved daycare, but now that you’ve reached the bottom of this piece, you know that DSS approved daycare is not even something you can ever attain — at least within the state of Missouri. The moral of the story is that you need to look elsewhere to find licensed child care programs in the state, and even more than that, you need to look at other considerations other than just licensure to make sure you’re sending your children to a reputable facility. If you’re on the other side of things as a child care worker, then you need to know that it usually takes more than just the bare minimum licensing requirements to run the best child care program possible, and that you shouldn’t look to DSS for those but rather DESE. It’s a similar acronym, but they’re two completely different departments. 

We want to leave you with a few calls to action. If you’re in search of more information or assistance, find your local Child Care Aware phone number and give them a call. They’ll be able to help. And if you’re on the child care provider side of things, the Child Care Aware phone number works just the same for you. The goal of the organization is to connect both parents and child care workers with the resources they need.

What is MOve Smart, and how can it benefit you as part of your child care professional training?

Child playing on playgroundIf you’ve heard there’s a program in Missouri that promotes healthy physical activity in child care settings, then you’re probably thinking of MOve Smart. Curious readers have found themselves in the right place — we’re here to take you through all aspects of the program, from child care professional training to earning the distinction for your child care facility.

We’re going to spend a lot of this piece exploring why physical activity is an important aspect of early childhood care, and that’s because MOve Smart is all about promoting those youngest kids getting active. If you don’t believe that’s a worthwhile goal, then you’re not going to care one way or the other about MOve Smart and its associated child care professional training. We’ll go through the specifics of the program first for anybody who doesn’t need to be convinced of its importance, and then we’ll move into explaining more of the rationale behind those guidelines. 

In one of the last sections, we’re going to debunk several of the common myths surrounding physical activity for kids under 5. Lots of adults are only thinking about it as exercise through their own lens, and they might fail to consider some important details of children’s specific needs in this department. 

Before we get into that, we’ve got to make sure everyone’s on the same page. So, let’s get some basic information out of the way.

What is MOve Smart?

Like we said at the top, MOve Smart is a program in the state of Missouri that aims to help child care workers get kids active in age-appropriate ways. There are two pieces to this. Individual instructors can take the MOve Smart child care professional training, but child care facilities can also earn MOve Smart recognition. There’s a core level recognition as well as an advanced one. Here are the criteria for each:

Core Level Criteria

  1. A written activity policy communicated to staff and parents
  2. At least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity built in to toddlers’ and preschoolers’ daily schedules
  3. At least 30 minutes of physical activity led by the teacher for toddlers and preschoolers each day
  4. Staff modeling and promoting active play
  5. All staff completing the MOve Smart child care professional training
  6. Never withholding physical activity as a punishment

Advanced Level Criteria

  1. Having an indoor play space that allows for moderate to vigorous physical activity
  2. Having an outdoor play space for active play
  3. Structured physical activity is regularly integrated into learning activities at least twice per day
  4. Children under 2 years old are allowed no screen time, and older children are allowed no more than 30 minutes per week of screen time for educational or physical activity purposes
  5. Except for naps and meals, children are not sedentary for longer than 30 minutes at a time throughout the day
  6. Area includes visual materials that promote physical activity, like books, posters, or pictures

Who can receive MOve Smart recognition?

The MOve Smart Child Care program is open to all early care and education facilities in the state of Missouri, as it’s awarded by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That includes traditional child care centers as well as family child care homes and group homes. Head Start sites, which are branches of a federal early childhood program, are also eligible to pursue MOve Smart recognition.

Again, it bears repeating that the recognition and the child care professional training of the same name are by no means the same thing. Anyone can complete the child care professional training on the state’s website. It’s an hour-long, online course. 

What are the benefits of receiving MOve Smart recognition? 

There’s more than just the satisfaction of knowing the children in your care are getting the right level of activity and kinds of movement to promote their health. One of the next biggest rewards is that your facility will be listed on the DHSS website, and your status as a MOve Smart-recognized program will be included in the Child Care Aware provider search and Healthy Child Care newsletter. You’ll be signaling to your current families as well as prospective ones that your facility is a great place for children to start off their physical activity journeys.

You’ll also be able to promote your MOve Smart recognition on your own through using the logo on your website and any printed materials you might have made. The DHSS provides all of the recognized programs with a certificate of achievement, window cling, poster, and sample press release, so you’ll be prepared to celebrate and advertise your new standing however you see fit.

How do you apply for MOve Smart recognition?

Now that you’re sold on the benefits of this kind of recognition, you’re ready to complete the associated child care professional training and/or apply for recognition. Here’s the process for that application:

  • Decide if you want your facility to be recognized at the Core or Advanced level.
  • Send an email to [email protected] letting the department know you’d like to apply for the recognition. They can get you in touch with some support and resources that might help you along in your application process.
  • Go over the requirements and make any necessary alterations to your child care facility in order to meet those criteria. This includes making sure all staff members have completed the necessary child care professional training. 
  • Submit the application, including relevant documentation

That’s it! You’ll hear back about the goodies you receive with your recognition shortly. Do keep in mind that the recognition is only valid for one year at a time, so you’ll have to renew annually with a self-assessment.

Why is physical activity important for young children?

There are all kinds of reasons why getting young children active will benefit them, both in the long run and more immediately. It’s pretty apparent that physical activity positively impacts bone and muscle strength, flexibility, and blood pressure. Those bodily benefits almost go without saying. What might be more of a surprise to you are all the mental benefits that go along with them. Physical activity can help the brain think better as well as improve moods and sleep quality. These are all important aspects of a child’s overall wellbeing, not to mention performance in school. A child care professional training on this subject will cover all these topics in more detail than we have space for here, if you’re interested in learning more.

Some Common Misconceptions about Physical Activity for Young Children

Many of us are far more familiar with the rules and guidelines surrounding exercise for adults and maybe even for school aged kids. When it comes to physical activity needs for toddlers and even younger kids, though, there’s usually a lot more confusion and uncertainty. Here are some of the more common misconceptions about physical activity for the youngest kids and the truth about what they need to thrive.

Myth: Continuous activity is always better than sporadic activity.

Since adults tend to block out a specific portion of their day or week for exercise, many people are under the impression that physical activity for just a few minutes at a time isn’t worthwhile or is inferior to spending 30 minutes or more on movement. 

Fact: Physical activity should be built into a toddler’s schedule throughout the day.

Young children don’t have the attention span for “workouts” as adults are used to them. As is exemplified in the MOve Smart criteria, building in brief periods of activity throughout the day to add up to 30 or 60 minutes is a great way to get young kids moving. That way, their natural spurts of energy can be utilized and followed up with rest periods or instruction where they need to be still. 

Myth: How often children are active at very young ages doesn’t really influence how active they are later in life.

When a child is jumping around with scarves or climbing on the playground, it’s hard to imagine that those little activities are going to have much of an effect on how often they hit the gym when they’re older. Many people think that kids will outgrow sedentary ways once they get to school or once they’re able to workout in the ways we typically imagine. 

Fact: Attitudes toward and habits around physical activity start young and last a long time.

Those who start out with a sedentary lifestyle don’t magically become active once they hit adulthood. Building those habits and mindsets starts at a very early age. According to the MOve Smart workbook, “Physical activity patterns develop in childhood and tend to last through adulthood.” You’ll learn more about this principle in relevant child care professional training.

Myth: Structured activity is better than unstructured play time.

Many adults are under the impression that in order for physical activity to be useful, an adult needs to lead it. Making sure kids do the “right” kind of activity is very important, and you need to have very specific child care professional training in order to lead the kids correctly.

Fact: Free, creative physical activity is vital to children’s development.

While it’s true that having structured ways to get active is an important aspect of a child’s daily routine, it’s not any more important than letting a child loose on a playground or with active toys where they can create their own activities. As you’ll learn in the MOve Smart child care professional training, both elements should be built into each day’s schedule.

While it’s true that specific trainings can help teachers with ideas on the kinds of activities to lead, you don’t need to be a physical education teacher in order to encourage and participate in healthy movement.

Myth: You don’t need to be concerned about physical activity for infants — if they can’t even crawl, why bother?

Infants seem to be the very definition of sedentary for many adults. They can’t do anything by themselves, it seems, so why even waste a moment trying to build physical activity into their daily routines? They’re definitely not going to be playing hopscotch or throwing a ball for quite some time. 

Fact: There are lots of ways to promote proper physical activity with infants.

Even infants can benefit from a focus on physical activity, and many good child care professional training courses will tell you this. They need supervised tummy time every day — you can start with 3 to 5 minutes and then increase from there. You can also encourage them to reach for toys. That may not sound like much, but for the littlest kids, that’s as good as a trip to the gym. You should also be taking infants outside 2 to 3 times each day if possible, and you should try not to keep them confined in places like strollers and swings for more than 15 minutes at a time. 

MOve Smart child care professional training can help you shape a new generation of active kids.

Now that we’ve seen just how important regular physical activity is for children under 5, it should be a no-brainer to pursue MOve Smart recognition for your early childhood care facility. You can refer back to this piece during the process if you need any help along the way. We went over all the steps you need to take to achieve that recognition, and we’ve also covered why it’s such a good idea on several fronts, if you need to do any convincing. 

Making sure the next generation has everything they need to succeed is the number one job of child care workers. Promoting appropriate physical activity at every step along the way is a vital part of that mission, and MOve Smart child care professional training can help you get there.

If you need any other child care resources, check out the rest of what we do here at Child Care Aware of Missouri. You can also reach out to us here if you need help with something you can’t find. We’re always happy to do our best to connect you with the best resources we can.

Finding Quality Child Care Centers in St. Louis, MO

A woman and a toddler laughingStarting your search for child care centers in St. Louis, MO can be daunting! Maybe you’re new to the area, perhaps you’ve made the decision to get back into the workforce, or maybe your work arrangements have changed and you need to start going back into the office after working from home for a while. Whatever the reason, beginning the search for child care can be intimidating and scary. But, never fear! Our team of experts is here to help! 

Finding child care centers in St. Louis, MO might seem like too difficult a task to even start, but that’s where we come in. It may feel overwhelming if it’s the first time you’ve started to look. It can be an emotional time looking for care for your child, as it may even be the first time that someone other than you or a family member might be looking after them. Our goal is to help you find the right fit for your family and connect you to resources to assist you along the way in this process.

Different types of Child Care Centers

The best place to begin with any search is first to identify what options are available in your area. One of the first differences to be aware of is that child care centers in St. Louis, MO and beyond can be licensed or licensed-exempt. That said, most child care centers will be licensed. 

Licensed Child Care Centers

Licensed child care programs have to pass regular fire, sanitation, and health inspections for their facilities as mandated by the state. They also have inspections by the Section for Child Care Regulation each year. The child care license should be displayed close to the facility entrance and available for all parents and guardians to view.

There are different types of licensed child care programs: licensed family child care home, licensed group child care home, and licensed child care center. Licensed family child care home programs are for up to ten children, who are not related to the family child care business owner, in the provider’s home. 

Licensed group child care home is a medium-sized program for between 11 and 20 children not related to the business owner. These programs can be attached to the owner’s home or in a different location. 

Licensed child care centers are facilities for more than 20 children and must be separate from the owner’s home. All of these programs follow certain rules depending on the number of children to caregivers. Licensed child care centers must follow these specific rules:

  • Birth to two years of age: 1 adult to every 4 children;  
  • Two-year-olds: 1 adult to every 8 children;  
  • Three to five-year-olds (not in school): 1 adult to every 10 children; and  
  • Five years of age and up (in school): 1 adult to every 16 children.

Licensing reports can be viewed by the public and shows how well a program meets child care licensing standards.

Licensed child care centers in St. Louis, MO also require that employees pass a background check. You want to keep your child as safe as possible and background checks ensure that everyone interacting with your child and others has nothing questionable in their history. Background checks must be completed before the candidate is hired at the facility and must be done every five years.

License-Exempt Child Care Centers

These child care centers do not need to be licensed by the state but do need to follow some of the same regulations as licensed centers. License-exempt child care centers are programs run by a religious organization or programs for preschool children that are open no more than four (4) hours per child per day. These programs must follow health, sanitation, and safety rules and requirements but are exempt from the requirements for the number of caregivers based on the ages and number of children in care, discipline practices, and staff training.

How to Find Quality Child Care Centers

Now that you have a better understanding of what type of child care center you’re looking for for your family, let’s discuss how to find the perfect child care centers in St. Louis, MO. The first step would be searching Missouri’s database of child care providers here.

If you know the specific name of a child care center you’re interested in, you can search directly for their records. You can also search for a particular location using a specific city, zip code, or county. This search also allows you to narrow down your search depending on the type of program you’re most interested in, such as licensed or license-exempt care facilities. These results will let you view the most recent inspections of each facility. You’ll also be able to see if there are any pending violations and the nature of any of those issues. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your search and selected a handful of child care centers in St. Louis, MO that fit your criteria, you’re ready to begin the process of really getting to know these facilities and their staff. This will be the time to reach out to ask any specific questions you may have and potentially schedule a tour to view the facility in action.

Things to Look for in Your Child Care Search

Every family has different needs for their child care program. You’ll need to be sure that any child care centers in St. Louis, MO you select are a perfect fit for your family and the only way to be sure is to ask plenty of questions. Here’s our list of important items to consider.

Family Involvement

Great child care centers in St. Louis, MO will have an open-door policy with family members. A program that encourages open communication and family involvement is always a good sign. It shows they are open and have nothing to hide.

Group Size and Ratios

In a licensed child care facility, the size and ratio of children and caregivers are mandated by the state. For child care centers in St. Louis, MO, the ratio specifics are mentioned just above in this article. When there are groups of mixed ages, these guidelines become a bit more complicated. To learn about these regulations, you can read more here

Ideally, the lower the ratio, the better. Fewer children to caregivers allow for your child to receive personalized care and attention. A lower ratio means that your child won’t be lost in the hustle and bustle of a busy child care center. With licensed child care centers in St. Louis, MO, this won’t be a problem because they have to follow state regulations, but it’s great to know the specifics of each facility you’re interested in.

Staff Training and Credentials

It’s important for child care programs to have their staff stay up to date with the ever-changing child care industry. With licensed child care centers, employees are required to earn 12 hours of clock hours of training a year. Often caregivers will attend more than 12 and some even earn college credits to continue their education.

Another item to consider with staffing is a program’s turnover rate. A high-quality, well-run facility will often have employees that want to stick around for the long haul. Low turnover can be indicative of a supportive and positive work environment and allows for caregivers to bond with the children in their care. Employees typically want to stick around if they feel appreciated and valued.

Other things to consider might be how a facility disciplines a child when they’re in trouble and how they are comforted if they’re upset. It’s good to know that a child care center aligns with your discipline and comfort practices and whether or not it agrees with your parenting style and philosophies.

Health and Safety

With the ever-changing health landscape in this day and age, it’s important to know what precautions that the child care centers in St. Louis, MO you’re interested in are taking to ensure your child’s health and your family’s. Important things to also know about would be how often a facility cleans and sanitizes, what procedures are followed if a child gets sick and what the criteria are to send a child home, field trip safety, or how allergies are handled.

Accreditation

Child care centers in St. Louis, MO that are accredited will meet the standard state requirements and usually go above and beyond these regulations. Accreditations from organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs, or the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation are a great place to start. Ask your chosen child care centers in St. Louis, MO what accreditations they have if any. They’ll be glad to tell you all about them!

Specific Needs of Your Family

While the above items are very important to consider, every family has specific needs and requirements for their child. Make a list of important items or practices you need in child care centers in St. Louis, MO and be sure to include these things in your checklists as you begin your visits. Your family’s needs may differ and a great child care program will be able to fit those needs exactly. You want to make sure its a great fit!

Additional Things to Consider for Infants

When looking for child care centers in St. Louis, MO for infants and toddlers, there are certain items to ask a program about. Does the staff have training related to safe sleep practices? Are there daily logs regarding feedings, diaper changes, and naps? Are all feeding choices accommodated and respected?

Additional Things to Consider for School-Age Children

Similarly, there are certain items to consider for school-age children as well. Are there plenty of reading materials and educational games? Is there transportation to and from school available? Is care available during school vacations or days when school is not in session?

Still have trouble finding child care?

If you’re still having trouble finding the right child care centers in St. Louis, MO that fit your family’s needs, give the Child Care Aware phone number a call! Calling 1-866-892-3228 can connect you to one of our Resource Specialists who can help you find new options as they become available. You can also fill out one of our forms and a specialist can reach out to you. We want to make sure that the child care you choose is perfect for your family. Every family is different and child care centers in St. Louis, MO are also different.

Another option is to try searching in a different location. You might find there are great options near your work, school, or other places nearby to your day-to-day life. There might be some real gems just a touch outside of your search radius.

Open the conversation up! Talk to friends, family members, neighbors. Check-in with your local library or community center. They may know of child care options available in your area and connect you with them. Some may have recommendations for an excellent facility that you never even considered. Use your community to your advantage!

Be sure to get on any waiting list for any programs you think might work well for your family. It never hurts to cover all your bases and the worst that could happen is a spot doesn’t become available. If you never get on the list, then you would never know if something opens up! 

Let the hunt begin!

We’ve talked about different types of child care, how to find quality care centers, things to look for during your child care search, and how to troubleshoot if you’re still having difficulty finding the right fit. Now it’s time to get out there and see what works for your family. 

No matter how you go about your child care search, we’re always here to help. We want to make this as easy and pain-free as possible. With our team of Resource Specialists, we’ll be able to help you find the perfect fit for your family that works in every way imaginable. We know how important it is to feel comfortable with your child care provider, it’s a big deal!

Our Best CDA in Child Care Tips

Toddlers eating a snack at a small tableLots of child care professionals want to pursue their CDA in child care. If you’re not aware, CDA stands for Child Development Associate credential. Earning a CDA in child care is a big deal. It signals to your peers and potential employers that you’re serious about your chosen profession.

Earning the credential involves a lot of steps. You need training hours, an observation, a portfolio, and to pass an exam. All told, that’s quite a bit of effort on your part. That’s why you’ll need all the help you can get. We’ve broken our tips into sections accordingly: One for the training requirement, one for the exam, and one to guide you through the verification visit by a Professional Development specialist. We’ll go over everything you need to do to get your CDA application in order at each of these stages.

While you shouldn’t get all of your information about your CDA application from one little blog post, we should be able to give you a great jumping off point for completing your CDA in child care. So, let’s get into it. We’ll start with the required training hours.

Tips for your CDA Child Care Training Hours

This is unquestionably the biggest part of the CDA credential, and it’s one of the tallest hurdles you need to get over for your CDA application. As such, you might think you need the most help to get it done. We’ve got some great advice to help you accomplish this feat.

Take a CDA child care specific course.

One part is choosing the right training. A key component of a CDA in child care is the 120 hours of training across eight fields that’s required. A crucial distinction — the requirement is 120 total hours with 10 hours in each of the eight CDA child care subject areas. Those are:

  • Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
  • Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
  • Supporting children’s social and emotional development
  • Building productive relationships with families
  • Managing an effective program operation
  • Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  • Observing and recording children’s behavior
  • Understanding the principles of child development and learning

There are a lot of different CDA child care courses out there. If you choose to opt for one, make sure it will cover all of those areas adequately. Also be sure to collect proof that you completed those training hours — if the program offers a certificate of completion or other documentation, make sure you hold onto it. You’ll need it for your portfolio.

Get your training done before submitting your CDA application.

Once you turn in your CDA application to the Council, you’ve only got six months to complete all of the requirements and earn your credential. So, it’s a good idea to get what you can out of the way before the clock starts. Your 120 training hours are one of those things to knock out before you ever submit that initial application. It’s also great to do because if you start with a CDA child care course, you’ll have a lot of resources to help you through the rest of the process.

Make sure you have the right resources.

In addition to courses to fulfill your training requirements, you can also purchase books that will help you through the process. The right kinds of guides will offer a lot more help than we ever could in a little blog post. However, you don’t want to overdo it. If you’re participating in a comprehensive course that covers all aspects of your CDA application, then you should have the right resources to find success. 

Tips for your CDA Child Care Exam

Testing anxiety is a real concern. For people who struggle with that, this component of your CDA in child care is going to be the most distressing. With the right preparation, though, you can definitely ace this test. Here, we’ve got you covered with some advice going into your CDA child care exam.

Brush up on your multiple choice skills.

All of the questions on the CDA child care exam are multiple choice. So, you should go back to the basics of optimizing any multiple choice test. Definitely try your best to answer every question, even if you have to guess (incomplete questions are marked as wrong). Eliminate options that are clearly wrong and try to pick the best one from the remaining answers. Go back over any questions that you’re not sure about if you have time at the end of the test.

Know what they’re going to be asking.

Most of the questions are situational, which means you’ll be asked to pick the option that most closely resembles how you would respond to the given situation. While you won’t be able to know the exact questions that will be on your exam, you should be able to get a general idea of the kinds of questions from taking practice tests. There are plenty of resources for those. If you’ve got a good idea of what sorts of situations and quandaries they’ll pose, then your CDA application is more likely to be successful. It’s basic studying, so fall back on what worked for you in school.

Tips for your CDA Child Care Verification Visit

This can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the process following your CDA application, especially if you’re not too bothered about taking the exam. The Professional Development specialist you select will come to your place of work for about four hours. The first hour will be spent reviewing your portfolio, followed by two hours of observing you at work. Then, their visit finishes with an hour sitting down with you and discussing various relevant things (we’ll go over what they’ll want to talk to you about in more detail later). Those are the basic steps in the CDA child care verification visit process, but we have some more specifics about what they’re looking for. Here are our tips.

Make sure you’re signed up for the right kind of CDA.

This might sound too obvious, but in a field this complex, it’s easy for little things to slip through the cracks, and discrepancies do sometimes occur between your CDA application and what’s on your competency standards booklet. You should have the opportunity to fix it before your verification visit, and take that opportunity if you need to. Your PD specialist should be able to help you make the proper arrangements to get you signed up for the right setting. The verification visit can’t go forward if you’re not signed up for the right kind of setting.

Complete your portfolio before you have your verification visit.

While it is possible for your PD specialist to continue their visit without a completed portfolio on your part, you’re going to get docked for that. You’re also wasting the valuable time you have to spend with an expert in your field. We’ll talk a little bit more about the relationship between you and your PD specialist later, but for now, just keep in mind that you have an hour to speak with a qualified professional about your strengths, weaknesses, and goals as a child care worker. 

Make sure your portfolio reflects you. 

It’s possible that you might need to be in a room that’s not yours for your observation. Maybe you’re normally the secondary teacher, or maybe there are staffing issues going on that day. Whatever the reason, you might not be on your home turf for your observation. That can be stressful. Part of what the PD specialist judges your CDA application on is the environment: Are cleaning supplies locked away? Are the books age-appropriate? Those kinds of considerations are very important. But when you’re in a room that’s not your own, you might not be in control of those things. 

If you’re concerned about this, making sure the portfolio element of your CDA application accurately reflects you is a way you can get across anything you don’t get to during your observation time, whether that’s because you’re not in your own environment or simply due to time constraints.

Be prepared.

One of the reassuring things about the PD specialist’s visit is that you know exactly when it’s going to happen. Since the visit won’t be a surprise, you can tailor the activities for that day around what the PD specialist is looking for. You can find all of those guidelines in the back of your competency standards booklet. They’ll take those exact pages to guide their observations, so you’ve got all the important information at your fingertips. So, take a look at those, and try to plan out your day around what they’re expecting to see.

Don’t talk to the PD specialist during the observation period.

You’ll probably be a little nervous about an expert watching you work. It’s not every day that someone’s evaluating you! It’s totally normal to be nervous about the fate of your CDA application, but try not to ask the PD specialist for reassurance while they’re observing you. It’s generally best to just go about your job like you normally would. You’ll have time to chat with them during the reflection period after the observation.

Collect as many family questionnaires as you can.

Part of the portfolio that you’ll present to your PD specialist is an overview of some questionnaires filled out by families who send their children to your place of work. PD specialists don’t read the family questionnaires, but they do count how many you get back in comparison to how many you sent out. You need to collect more than half of what you distribute and then condense what they’ve said into the appropriate forms. 

Make it clear how the pandemic changes things

The current situation regarding COVID-19 means that not everything in your child care environment will be ideal. For social distancing reasons, you might have certain toys assigned to each child or other special considerations that would otherwise be unreasonable. As long as you communicate this during your interview time, your PD specialist should be understanding.

See your PD specialist as a mentor rather than a disciplinarian.

The PD specialist observing you isn’t trying to dock points just for fun. They’re there to ensure that you’re practicing everything that you’ve put into words in your portfolio. We already mentioned that at the end of their visit, they’ll sit down with you for an hour-long discussion about what they saw and what you wrote in your portfolio. If they didn’t get a chance to see part of your daily routine due to the time of day of the observation, then they’ll ask you about the typical procedure or how you incorporate those elements into your work.

This reflection period and interview isn’t another exam. Yes, you’re being judged, but it’s all in an effort to make you a better child care professional. Make the most of the time you have with an expert in your field who wants to see you succeed.

The biggest tip: Don’t go it alone.

The biggest piece of advice we can give you about your CDA application is to find resources to help you with it. This blog post is a great place to start with your CDA child care instruction needs, but it’s definitely not the last place you should go. You’ll benefit from whatever support you can get.

As we discussed in the first section, taking a CDA child care course is a great way to get that initial help. Not only will that take you through the 120 hours of required training and all of the important subject areas, but it will also give you access to more resources to get your CDA application filled out properly.

If you need any further help with anything child care related, don’t be afraid to reach out to us here at Child Care Aware of Missouri. We’ve got plenty of resources for parents and child care professionals alike, and we’re happy to try to point you in the right direction if you need something we don’t provide. Best of luck with your CDA application!

Resources at a Child Care Resource and Referral Network

Two adults showing a leaf to a toddlerThere’s a huge demand for child care resources in this country. The need for high-quality child care as well as its benefit on society at large are well-documented, but it’s not always easy to find. Between the soaring costs of child care and the current climate changing the way we work, a child care resource and referral network can do all kinds of good. 

If you’re searching for some kind of family resources list, a child care resource and referral network is a great place to turn. Here, we’ll explain the work they do and how they might be helpful for you and your family. We’ll touch briefly on the other kinds of invested parties they serve, but we’ll mostly narrow our focus on families in search of child care and a family resources list. Before we get into all that, though, let’s define our terms.

What is a child care resource and referral network?

A child care resource and referral network is an organization that has a goal of connecting parents and child care providers to the resources they need to thrive. They’re also sometimes just called child care resource networks or CCR&R networks. No matter what they’re called, they strive to help this incredibly complicated field by making sure those who offer services and resources can reach the families who need them and vice versa.

For Child Care Providers

This is less relevant to our purposes here, but an important part of any child care resource and referral network’s work is to get child care providers in touch with the training they need to offer the best possible care. These include offerings like professional development opportunities and regular training courses as well as more formal education. They might point you in the right direction toward scholarships, information, and anything else pertinent about certain training programs.

For Parents

The more pertinent side of what child care resource and referral networks offer, though, is what they can do for families. Like we said earlier, these organizations are great places to find localized family resources lists. A child care resource and referral network is going to have plenty of information on what kinds of services are available to you, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for on hand, they’ll be able to link you up with an organization that does. We’re talking about help paying for child care, what to look for in a child care provider, and all kinds of other relevant tips regarding child care. We’ll get into the specifics in the following sections — after all, that’s what this blog post is all about! 

So, a child care resource and referral network is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s an organization that’s a great first stop when you’re looking for anything in relation to the child care field. Now that we’ve got that baseline definition out of the way, let’s dive a little deeper into a family resources list. We’ll go over some of the different kinds of resources you can get in touch with through a child care resource and referral network.

What You Can Get at a Child Care Resource and Referral Network

Now that we’re aware of what a child care resource and referral network basically is, we can list what they offer in more detail. Keep in mind that they provide a whole lot more than this for different kinds of invested parties. And if you need something outside the scope of these services, go ahead and ask. The child care resource and referral network might be able to get you in touch with the right organization, even if they aren’t familiar with your specific need. No matter what item on your needed family resources list you’re looking for, these organizations can be a great place to start.

With all that said, here’s our non-comprehensive list of what a child care resource and referral network can help you with.

Referrals to Local Child Care Providers

This is probably the biggest ticket item on any family resources list. Parents want to know that they’re dropping their kids off at a reputable child care facility every day, but it can be hard to be sure of that. Any child care resource and referral network worth its salt is going to have some kind of way to search for local child care providers. They can give you the contact information for high-quality child care in your area, and you can take it from there. We’ll get deeper into what else they can do on the child care front in a later section, but for now, just know that these organizations are great places to start your child care search. 

Information on State Licensing Requirements

This kind of information is there to make you feel more equipped to make that all-important child care decision. By understanding the different types of child care facilities out there, you’re better able to make the right choice for your family. It’s great to find more localized organization to help you with research about this topic because the rules vary from state to state. So, if you can find an organization in your area with information about local guidelines, then you’re going to be sure you’re getting everything relevant to your state.

In Missouri, at least, there are four different types of child care operations when it comes to licensing: Licensed, license-exempt, exempt, and six or fewer. You can learn more about what each of those categories entails with the help of your local child care resource and referral agency. It might not be as vital to your day-to-day as a family resources list, but it’s still a helpful way to narrow your child care search.

Information on Where to Get Help Paying for Child Care

It’s a well-known fact that child care in this country is prohibitively expensive for many families. Finding places that will help you pay for that essential service is a great way to make use of your local resource and referral agency. Part of any good family resources list includes financial help, especially when it comes to child care. They’ll have ideas on where to go for assistance, both at the state level and at more localized organizations and opportunities. Definitely take advantage of the help you can get.

Some opportunities might be somewhat obvious, like getting a discount at a child care center for sending multiple children, but others are less advertised. A child care resource and referral agency can direct you toward assistance you might never have thought of otherwise. And even if you think you’ve exhausted your options, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Community Resources

One of these agencies or networks in your area might allow you to search for the kind of community resource you need to build out your family resources list. Different categories you might be looking to fill could include safety, health, recreation, education, family supports, or any other kind of community resource that could help your children or your family. 

This is another benefit to seeking help from a local network. These community resources are based within the neighborhoods they serve, meaning they’re going to be dialed into the specific needs of the area. It takes a village, after all. Getting in contact with all the resources within that
“village” or community is a great way to fill out your family resources list. Put together all the different help you can get, and you’ve got a great start to a better life for your child. A child care resource and referral agency can help you do just that.

State and National Resources 

It’s true that we just touted the benefits of looking for very localized resources, down to the county or city level. That way, they’ll be more in tune with your specific community’s needs. However, there’s also a huge benefit to looking at the resources at broader levels, like state and national resources.

The items at this level on the family resources list aren’t just financial help or child care centers. They might include organizations, programs, or activities that help you find a job, housing, or other basic needs. If you can’t find enough assistance at the local level, go broader, and vice versa. A child care resource and referral network can help you find the right mix of support and solutions.

General Child Care Information

We’re talking about terms and definitions relevant to this complex field as well as tips and tricks of the trade. As we already mentioned, these agencies can help you learn about the different forms of licensing for child care providers in your area. They’re also a great resource on what to look for when you’re considering different places to send your children. They’ll have definitions on what each type of child care setting entails, and they might even have lists of things to look for and questions to ask when you’re contacting those different providers. 

If you’re looking for any type of general information about anything on your family resources list, one of these agencies or networks is a great place to start. They have a wealth of knowledge and experts backing them, and they should be able to answer your questions. If they can’t, they should be able to put you in contact with someone who can.

What You Can’t Get at a Child Care Resource and Referral Network

Given that we’ve already given a pretty expansive view on what you can get through a child care resource and referral network, it should already be pretty obvious what you can’t get. However, for the sake of completion, we’re going to clarify a few things in this section. We’ll start with the family side of things, since that’s been our main focus here, and then we’ll move into the topics more relevant to child care providers.

First of all, child care resource and referral networks do not actually care for children. They’ll give you all the information you need to find high-quality child care in your area and give you a family resources list, but they won’t take the kids themselves. The groups are mostly very localized, though, so they should have a good idea on what’s available near you. 

For any child care providers looking to get something other than a family resources list out of one of these organizations, know that they’re not handing out degrees or certifications. They don’t usually put on training events themselves. However, like we’ve already said, they’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction. They might also offer their own programs to help you pay for certain kinds of trainings. But again, they’re usually not offering that education themselves.

You should also ensure that you’re reaching out to the right organization for the thing you need. For example, there are national networks and more local ones. You should be in contact with the child care resource and referral network in your specific area to get the best local recommendations. The national networks are generally more focused on policy advocacy.

Now you know what you can find through a child care resource and referral network.

With this wealth of information at your fingertips, you should be chomping at the bit to get in touch with a child care resource and referral network in your area. By now, you’ve got a good grip on all the different kinds of assistance one of these organizations can provide, and you’re also aware of the aspects of this field that they don’t touch. We covered all the different information that you can find with these sorts of agencies, and if anything rang true for you, you should definitely reach out.

If you’re looking for a place to start your search for a family resources list, you can always turn to us here at Child Care Aware of Missouri. We’re a local arm of Child Care Aware of America, one of the most well-recognized child care resource and referral networks in the country. Feel free to check out our website for some extra information, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out here.

How to Make the Most of Child Care Training Online

A man taking a child care training onlineThe past couple years have forced us to get used to lots of life happening online. Child care training online is no exception. Of course, online child care workshops have existed for a while, and they’re by no means new, but they’re particularly well-suited to our current climate. You can learn a lot about the field without having to leave your home. Plus, since different states require child care workers to complete a certain number of training hours each year, they’re a great way to stay on top of your obligations. 

Taking child care training online has some benefits over in-person classes. The biggest one for many people is that it’s vastly more convenient. You won’t have to travel at all — you could even do it in your pajamas! The flip side, though, is that you’re missing out on any potential hands-on experience an in-person training might provide. Online courses are notoriously less engaging than in-person ones, and even though they’re more convenient and practical for our current situation, it can still be tricky to make them feel as impactful as a face-to-face option.

That’s where this post comes in. We’ll give you seven tips on how to make the most of taking child care training online. Our suggestions cover all sorts of different aspects of online child care workshops, and hopefully, you’ll be ready to take them head-on by the end of this piece. But before we get into all that, we have to cover some basics.

First, you have to know where to find them.

You can’t make the most of a training that you don’t sign up for. Therefore, we wanted to start with some tips on how to find child care training online. First, if you live and work in Missouri, you can always check out the Office of Childhood within the Department of Health and Senior Services. They have a list of all the different online child care trainings they offer. Starting here has two main perks: First, you’ll be sure that all of them count toward your required training hours for the year. Second, they’re all completely free. 

There are plenty of other places on the internet to find child care training online, but starting with a trusted resource like the DHSS is a great first move. That way, you’ll be sure that you’re getting good, reliable information and that you’re not wasting any time or money on courses that don’t fulfill your requirements. Other places to look for online child care workshops include any professional organizations that might offer them, especially if they’re ones you’re a member of or ones you’d like to join.

Also think about the specific kind of child care training you’d like to take. Then, try to find an organization that specializes in that area of the field. They might have online child care workshops that fit your needs. 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into the tips for taking child care training online.

Tip 1: Take it as seriously as you would an in-person training course.

Online child care workshops might not feel as official as their in-person counterparts, but if you can treat them as such, then you’re well on your way to making the most of child care training online. Come into the experience with the right attitude. You want to learn everything you can to increase your knowledge and abilities as a child care provider, and you’re taking child care training online as a means to that end. Most of the following tips all fall under this umbrella, and they’re more specific ways to make sure you’re staying on top of everything. 

Basically, this is a mindset thing. When you’re sitting on your couch with your laptop in front of you, it’s easier to be in relaxation mode instead of focus mode. At an in-person training event, you’re going to be primed to be more focused because you’re in a space designed for the workshop or class. You won’t be in the same area as all your typical chores and relaxation like you will be at home. So, when you’re taking child care training online, you need to put a conscious effort into treating it as seriously as an in-person class. This will help you get the most out of the experience.

Tip 2: Stay focused.

This is, of course, much easier said than done. This tip also dovetails nicely with the previous one. Since you’ll likely be at home to take child care training online, you’ll have all the things around the house that typically distract you. Try to eliminate as many of those as you can before starting online child care workshops. Set up a work zone somewhere with minimal distractions, or at least turn off the TV before you get started. If there are other people in the house, let them know when your online child care workshops are so that they won’t bother you during the training (as long as they remember).

Another way to increase your focus is to choose the right time to do your training, provided that it’s an on-demand situation. If you’re doing some kind of synchronous class or participating in a Q&A session with an expert in the field, then you’re not going to have much of a choice when it comes to the timing of your class. However, if you are able to choose when to complete your training, doing it at a time when you’ll have the least amount of distractions and are at your most focused is a great idea.

Tip 3: Supplement with in-person options when you can.

Okay, so we’ll admit this is less of a tip for child care training online and more of a suggestion in addition to those courses. Lots of hybrid options can be a great way to combine in-person experience with the convenience of online courses. Online child care workshops are definitely missing the kinds of face-to-face connections that you can get from in-person offerings, so see if you can add that component in elsewhere. You might learn about first aid in an online course, for example, and then take a hands-on CPR class to complement that theoretical knowledge with some practical experience. 

This strategy isn’t feasible for every type of child care training, but it’s a good one to keep in mind when you’re scheduling your different classes for the year. Finding a good mix, when possible, can help even things out.

Tip 4: Take notes.

What you learn in a child care training online can serve you for a long time to come. You’ll want to be able to remember what you learn in online child care workshops, and keeping notes of what went down is a great way to ensure that longevity. You’ll have them to look back on for as long as you can keep track of them, and it might also help you retain the information better.

How you choose to take notes is up to you. Some people prefer to type up their notes while others are dead-set on pen and paper. Especially since you’re taking the child care training online, it might be helpful to have one solid, non-digital element like physical notes to fall back on. Whatever method you choose, it can be helpful to stay organized. Get a notebook specifically for your training classes and take all your notes there. Make sure you write down the name and date of the course. Or, if you’re choosing to go digital, keep your notes in one document or folder that has a descriptive name. That can help you find them later.

Figure out a system that works for you and stick to it. You’ll have an easier time recalling the information as well as pulling up your notes when you’d like to refer back to them. Even though you’re probably not going to have to take a big final exam for any of these comparatively low-stakes online child care workshops, you’ll still want to be able to feel like you learned something to truly make the most of it.

Tip 5: Get your technology in order.

You want to make sure everything works before a scheduled child care training online. That includes a stable internet connection, a computer that won’t randomly crash in the middle of the workshop, speakers or headphones that you’ll be able to hear clearly out of, and potentially a microphone, if it’s a live class where participation is encouraged. Make sure your setup includes all the things you’ll need for this particular child care training online. That way, you can avoid any mid-workshop catastrophes, and you can stay focused on learning instead of trying to troubleshoot any technical issues. This will make your training time much more efficient. 

Enlist help if you need it. There might be resources within the class you’re taking, or you might have to seek outside assistance. Whatever the case, you should make note of exactly what you’ll need for this specific course and then ensure you’ve got all those things ready to go. You won’t gain anything from online child care workshops you can’t access, so make sure you’ve got the digital resources you need.

Tip 6: Network, if possible.

This one is a bit of a stretch for a lot of you taking child care training online. However, we figured it was worth mentioning just to underscore how important it is. Not all online child care workshops have the option of getting to know other people taking the training, but if there is some kind of chat function, make the most of it. 

Most of these trainings are just going to be watching some videos and taking some quizzes, but if you do end up in a more traditional online course, you might be able to meet some like-minded professionals. Networking is always a good idea to set a foundation for advancing in your chosen field. And surrounding yourself with other child care providers who value gaining new information and insight through online child care workshops is never a bad idea.

So, this is all to say that if it’s at all possible to connect with other people taking the courses you are, then you should definitely go for it. Building a network takes work, and this can be the start of a great one.

Tip 7: Keep track of what trainings you take.

This is a great way to finish out your online child care workshops strong. You want to make sure you can refer back to which trainings you’ve already taken, and you’ll want to be able to prove that you have successfully completed the class. Get documentation if it’s necessary and available. That might mean printing off a certificate at the end of the course or saving a screenshot of it. You might also be able to prove you’ve completed a child care training online in another way, so just make sure you know what your options are with the specific courses you’re taking. 

The last thing you want is to be short training hours at the end of the year because you assumed you’d taken enough but hadn’t kept track, or because you can’t prove that you really did take enough classes. Keeping good records of your child care trainings will help prevent these headaches.

Now, you’re set up for success with child care training online.

By now, you’re fully aware of the basic steps you need to take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your online child care workshops. You can find, participate in, and learn from some great online child care trainings, and you know how to keep those benefits for years to come.

If you need any other help finding resources related to child care, whether that’s training for child care providers or any other element of this very complicated field, you can always start with us here at Child Care Aware of Missouri. You can reach out to us here if you have any further questions. We’re always happy to see if we can connect you with the right resources to meet your needs, whether that’s online child care workshop-related or otherwise.

How to Get the Best Results from Your Child Care Search

A child playing in a daycare found from a child care searchEmbarking on a child care search is a daunting task. It’s a very complex field, and it’s hard to know what to look for in child care providers. Plus, emotions are running high. You’re looking for someone to take care of your child, which is pretty high stakes, and it might be the first time you’ve left them in the hands of someone you don’t know personally. If you’ve been having trusted family members watch out for your little ones when you can’t, making a change can be hard. A child care search has to take into consideration all these factors and more.

We’re here to make it easier for you. Here, we’re going to take you through all the things you need to look for in your child care search. Whether you’re looking for daycare in Columbia, MO, infant care in Springfield, or any other kind of child care anywhere else in the state, Child Care Aware of Missouri is here to help. Our goal is to connect you with the resources you need to make sure your child care search comes up with good results and you feel confident in leaving your children in capable hands. 

Now, let’s get into it. First, we’ll look at how to identify good candidates in the initial stage of your child care search.

Where to Find Good Child Care

You can look up Missouri’s database of child care providers here. You can search for the records regarding a specific child care facility you’re interested in, or you can search for a particular location and find a list of child care providers in that area. These geographical searches can be narrowed down to a specific city, zip code, or county. You can also narrow down your search depending on the type of facility you’re looking for. If, for example, you’re not comfortable with license exempt programs, you can exclude those from your search.

Then, you’ll get the results of your initial child care search. You can look at the results of their most recent inspections and check if they have any pending violations, and if so, the nature of those issues.

Once you’ve got a handful of facilities you’re interested in that are conveniently located, then you’re ready to reach out to them to ask some questions and potentially get a tour. That leads us to our next section.

Questions to Ask in Your Child Care Search

When you reach out to these child care providers, you’re going to have other things you need to know to make sure they’re a reputable place to entrust with your children. We’ve put together some of our most important questions to ask them.

1. Family Involvement

How involved are the families allowed to be? If spontaneous visits from parents aren’t allowed, that’s a potential red flag. You want to make sure there’s good communication between you and your child’s caregiver, and making sure the whole family can get involved is a good step in that direction.

2. Group Size and Ratios

In a licensed child care facility, the maximum group sizes and ratios of children to caregivers are mandated by the state. Check your local authorities for the rules where you live. In Missouri, there must be one adult for every four children under the age of two, one adult for every eight children who are two years old, one adult for every 10 children three through four years old, and one adult for every 16 children who are five and up. The rules are a little different and more complicated for groups of mixed ages, and if you’d like to read the whole guidelines, you can check them out here.

Obviously, the lower the ratio, the better. Especially if you’re looking at larger centers in your child care search, you’ll need some assurance that your child is getting individualized attention. You want to make sure that your child won’t get lost in the shuffle. As long as the facility is following the state’s regulations, it should be fine, but you should still ask to make sure!

3. Training and Staff Credentials

You might want to assume all the staff members at a reputable child care center are fully qualified for their jobs, but you should definitely double check. Ask what kind of training they receive on an ongoing basis and what their credentials are. You might be surprised. 

This is also the spot to point out that you need to be asking about staff turnover rate. If lots of the child care providers want to leave after a short time working there, it’s probably a good idea to move on with your child care search. A high turnover rate is often indicative of poor management — people tend to want to stay at well-run child care centers.

Most of these questions have been targeted toward bigger child care centers, but if you’re more interested in a family home or other small facility, you still need to do your due diligence. Ask how long they’ve been running their family child care home, and you can ask for references of other families who have been happy with their services.

4. Health and Safety

These questions to ask in your child care search are wide ranging. Let’s first focus on food. Ask what kinds of snacks they serve, if any. If your child has any allergies, you’ll definitely need to know how those will be accommodated. 

Also, are they planning any field trips? If they’re going to be taking your children anywhere, you need to know there are appropriate safety precautions in place when it comes to travel. If the facility offers any kind of transportation services, you need to know that safety is taken seriously while en route to the destination. Ask about all these things and any other safety concern that comes up.

5. Accreditation

You’ll need to find out if the program you’re interested in is accredited by a reputable organization. Look for accrediting bodies at the state or national level. These sorts of organizations hold child care programs to high standards, and they’ll check in periodically to renew those accreditations. You’re looking for accreditations from organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs, or the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. You can also use their websites to begin your child care search. 

6. Unique Needs of Your Family

We’ve put forward what we think are the top five things to ask about in your child care search already, but we’re never going to know what your family needs as well as you do. You should take stock of what you’re really looking for in a child care provider and make sure anything we haven’t listed here are at the top of your list of questions. 

Daycare in Columbia, MO: An Example

Now, we want to move into a practical way to use this information about child care searches. Let’s take daycare in Columbia, MO, as an example. We’re going to compile all the child care search steps we’ve already identified in this piece and put them together in a hypothetical situation with a fictional parent looking for daycare in Columbia, MO. 

We’re choosing a search for daycare in Columbia, MO, because it’s a good size for comparison. If you’re looking for daycare in Columbia, MO, then you’ve got some options to choose from, but probably not as many as you would have in a bigger city. If you were conducting a child care search in a more rural area, then you might really have your work cut out for you. Plus, since we’re mainly focused on Missouri child care searches here, it’s centrally located. That combined with the fact that there are enough facilities providing daycare in Columbia, MO, make it a good example.

Daycare in Columbia, MO: Initial Child Care Search

So, imagine you’re a parent in Columbia. You’re ready to go back to work after welcoming your first child, and you need to find a reputable person or facility to care for them. How do you start your child care search?

Like anywhere else in Missouri, a great place to start looking for daycare in Columbia, MO, is the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s search engine. The parent in our example would select Columbia as the city, or they could put in a zip code or search all of Boone county, depending on how far away they’re willing to go for child care. They can also narrow their search according to the type of facility they’re interested in. Let’s say they’re looking for child care centers only. They would check that box and hit “search.” 

Daycare in Columbia, MO: Sifting Through Results

Then, they have a whole list of child care centers for our hypothetical parent to scroll through. You can see their hours as well as the ages of the children they serve right away. Since this parent has an infant, they’ll be looking for a daycare in Columbia, MO, that caters toward those youngest kids. They can quickly rule out any that only take care of older kids. They can also scan for the hours that work best for their schedule. Finally, they can make note of the addresses and telephone numbers of the options for daycare in Columbia, MO, that fit their needs.

You can also click on any child care centers that catch your eye and check to see how they fared in their most recent inspections. The state keeps records of any violations they uncovered and when those were resolved, if they were. This information can help you move to the next stage in the child care search process.

Daycare in Columbia, MO: Making Decisions

Now our imaginary parent has a short list of options from their initial child care search. It might be tempting to call the first one, enroll, and call it a day, but as you already know, there are other considerations in play.

Our example parent needs to reach out to the different child care centers on their short list and do some research to make sure all the questions we outlined are answered. Some might be addressed on their website, if they have one, but others will be more opaque. Our parent will need to give them a call and potentially schedule a tour of the facility. There are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to daycare in Columbia, MO, so these questions and criteria can be a good way to figure out which ones stand out from the rest in your child care search.

Finally, our hypothetical parent takes all those answers into consideration and chooses a child care center. Their child search for a daycare in Columbia, MO, is a success!

Now you’re prepared for your own child care search.

Hopefully, our little example paired with the rest of the information we’ve given you here is enough to get you started on your own child care search. You should be armed with a good place to start, whether that’s through the state’s database or on an accrediting organization’s website. 

Then, you’re ready to ask some questions. There are the basics you should always cover, like health, safety, and caregiver credentials, and then there are the qualities you’re looking for specific to your family. You might need specific hours, or you might prefer one kind of preschool philosophy over the others. Location and price are also considerations, as well as what type of child care facility you’d prefer. There are small, family-run child care operations that care for a handful of children in their home, and there are also big child care centers that employ many teachers and caregivers. There are also lots of options in between. You’ll need to consider the pros and cons of each style of child care before you choose one.

Now, you should have everything you need to find a reputable place to care for your children during the day. Whether you’re looking for daycare in Columbia, MO, or elsewhere in the state, you can check out Child Care Aware of Missouri for further resources. We’ve got lots of great information about child care where this blog post came from.

How to Find Free Child Care Trainings

A preschool teacher reading to students who benefited from free child care trainingsKeeping up with all the latest advances in the child care field is so important — it’s an incredibly complex field that’s hard to understand. That’s why child care online training courses are a great resource for child care providers. And free child care trainings are even better. Both of these kinds of options make education more accessible to more child care providers, and that’s always a good thing. 

It’s important to make sure we’re getting our kids the highest quality care possible. There are all kinds of reasons that we should be making sure our child care professionals are as highly trained as possible, and we’ve already written about those here. We’ll give you a brief summary in this piece as well, though, in case you don’t want to read an entire other blog post. The gist of it is that our society is stronger with better education and care for our children. Their parents are able to be more productive at work, and they have a better shot at success later in life. Plus, at least in the state of Missouri, child care workers are required to complete 12 clock hours of training each year. 

Lots of the free child care trainings we’re going to list here will count toward those hours. Sometimes child care online training courses don’t count, but not always. We’ll make a note of any child care online training courses we mention that wouldn’t qualify for your yearly hours. And even if they don’t, if it’s a high-quality class, then you’re still getting something out of it. 

Here, we’ll give you some advice on how to find free child care trainings and what to look for when you’ve found them. Read on.

Check out your online options.

Searching for free child care trainings is going to be a lot harder if you limit yourself to in-person classes and seminars. It should be clear why child care online training courses are easier to make free than in-person ones. There’s no need to rent space, buy or print any materials, or any other costs that in person events must incur. Plus, you won’t need to pay for travel costs to get there.

On the flip side, though, don’t assume all child care online training courses are going to be free by default. There are still a lot of costs associated with child care training. The organization offering the training will have designed the course, bringing on experts in the field to design the right kind of curriculum. That’s not free. 

So, it’s true that online child care training classes are often more accessible than their in-person counterparts. But don’t be tricked into thinking just because it’s online it’s automatically free. 

DHSS Child Care Online Training Courses

In Missouri, which is the state we’re based out of, the Department of Health and Senior Services has a lot of free child care trainings for you to peruse online. One of the best parts of choosing these child care online training courses is that you can be absolutely sure they’ll count toward your required clock hours for the year. 

There are all kinds of topics you can learn about in these child care online training courses. From licensing to social and emotional health and from poison safety to transportation and much more, there’s sure to be a course to interest you among those that the DHSS offers online. You can learn more about these free child care trainings here if we haven’t sold you on them yet.

Make sure the course is offered by a reputable source.

Especially when you’re looking at child care online training courses, you need to double check the credibility of the program and the organization who runs it. How diligent you need to be about this is going to depend on how you find the course. If you’re just looking on the DHSS website, then you don’t need to worry. All of those free child care trainings have been vetted and approved.

But when you happen to find free child care trainings elsewhere on the internet, then you might not be sure right away whether this is a reliable organization. Of course, you’re going to need to be more wary about paid courses, since you need to be careful with giving out your payment information, but don’t be lulled into a sense of security with free child care trainings. There are always going to be people trying to take advantage of others, especially online. Bad child care online training courses might not be as obviously shady as poorly planned in-person ones, which means you need to be extra aware. Make sure you’re not wasting your time. 

See if you can find information about the organization that put the course together. If there’s not much out there about them, that could be a bad sign. 

Don’t waste your time on online child care trainings that don’t serve you.

For those who need free child care trainings to fulfill their yearly clock hour requirement, you have an extra layer of inspection involved. It would be a real shame to complete a course and only later discover that you can’t count it toward your hours. So, while you’re checking that the child care online training courses you’re interested in are actually reputable, you should also be making sure what you’re learning is relevant to your job and your interests. If you never work with infants, for example, then you might not benefit from a sleep safe training course. Look for courses that are relevant to what you want to improve.

Scholarships can cut down on costs for training courses that aren’t free.

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that many high-quality child care training regimens aren’t accessible to everyone because of their cost. Free child care trainings are great when they’re available, but if you want to advance in the child care field, you’ll want to look beyond your free training options at some point. 

You’ll also want to look at comprehensive training programs rather than just one-off courses. An example of this would be earning your Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. There are different programs out there that will cover the cost of the application and test. Some of them will even pay you an extra stipend to achieve this credential. What could be better than getting paid to learn more about your field?

Think about your interests and specialties.

There are plenty of widely applicable and fairly generic online child care classes out there, but those will only take you so far. It might be beneficial to pursue a more specialized course of study. 

For example, if you’re a member of the American Montessori Society, then you’ll have access to free child care trainings on that organization’s website. Since you have to pay membership dues for this one, it’s not technically free. However, it’s still something you might have access to without incurring an additional cost. Looking for opportunities like this is a great way to find accessible training resources. Check through the different organizations you belong to or might like to join to see which ones have child care online courses — that might be a deciding factor for you.

Free child care trainings are only going to take you so far. If you want to further specialize in one area of the industry, then at some point, you’re likely going to have to pay for it. Picking an organization whose philosophy and methods you believe in is a good way to start. As we talked about in a previous section, you can also search for scholarships that can drastically reduce the cost of more traditional child care courses, if not make them free outright.

Check with your local child care resource and referral agency.

These organizations are dedicated to making sure that child care providers and families with small children are connected to all the resources they need. If you need more help than a simple blog post can provide, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local branch of Child Care Aware or another resource and referral agency.

You won’t need to worry about the quality of the free child care trainings that Child Care Aware recommends. They’re experts in the field, and they only associate with reputable, helpful, and totally above board resources, whether they’re child care online training courses or any other help you might want. Child care resource and referral agencies are great places to start a search for any child care-related need, training classes included.

Ask your colleagues.

Maybe you’re a step ahead of us and you’ve already tried this one, but we thought it deserved a spot on this list just in case. Don’t be shy about asking around for free training opportunities. Especially if you’re new to the child care field, you’ll probably have a lot to learn from your more experienced coworkers. They’re a great resource, as long as they’re willing.

Your employer might even schedule free child care trainings in order to increase the quality of their operation. Definitely take advantage of any opportunities you find through your work. We’ve already talked about how scholarships can help make training courses more affordable, but you should also check to see what your employer’s policy is on reimbursing you for continuing your education. If they don’t schedule their own trainings, they might be willing to pay for you to attend a relevant conference or class. There’s also the possibility of tuition reimbursement for pursuing more formal training. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Think about what will set you apart from your peers.

This is especially important if you’re not working in a child care center. Maybe you’re an independent child care provider trying to find clients whose homes you can visit. If that’s the case, you’re going to have to stand out from your competition. Consider what kinds of skills would make parents more comfortable leaving their children in your care. That can help you refine your search for child care online training courses.

Another situation where you’d want to carefully consider how to improve your child care skills is if you’re looking for a new job. No matter what type of setting you prefer to work in, there are likely going to be other applicants you’re competing against for a job. You want to have the right kinds of skills, training, and experience to land the position. This might go beyond what you can get out of free child care trainings, but it’s important to think about.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of great child care training courses out there, you just have to find them. In order to find good, free child care trainings, you need to be vigilant. You can go to a trusted source like the DHSS or Child Care Aware of Missouri and search from there, or you can take it to the wider web. 

Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. When you work in child care, online training courses can be hugely beneficial due to their convenience and accessibility, but they can also be potentially problematic. You just need to do your due diligence and look into the organization that’s offering the child care online training courses.

Now, you’re fully aware of what to look for and how to go on the hunt for child care training classes. You can check with those organizations we’ve mentioned, check with your employer and coworkers, or just scour the internet. There are plenty of options, as well as places to go for help paying for any courses that aren’t free.

In some ways, no child care training is really free. There’s always going to be a cost of time or missing out on other things you could be doing instead. Even if it’s just a brief training video as part of child care online training courses, there are probably lots of other things you’d technically rather be doing. Nonetheless, it’s an important pursuit. Good luck!

What Is Child Care Aware of America?

A woman, man, and toddler sitting on the floor reading a book, a good practice according to Child Care Aware of AmericaOkay, so maybe this seems like an easy question to answer. Child Care Aware of America sounds like fairly straightforward name. However, it’s really not as simple as it seems. The child care field can be incredibly complex, and understanding all the nuances of the important work Child Care Aware of America does can go a long way to illuminating that field. 

It’s no secret that good, affordable child care can be incredibly hard to come by, especially in certain regions. There’s a lot of good work going on from Child Care Aware of America and child care resource networks like it to combat those difficulties for working families, but if you don’t know that help is out there, you might flounder all on your own. So, it’s important to make yourself aware of your options.

Here, we’re going to take you through the core aspects of what makes this child care resource network tick. We’ll go over their main services, a little bit of their history, and how their work impacts families all across the nation. If you’re already familiar with a Child Care Aware affiliate in your neck of the woods, then you’re already probably pretty well-versed in what the national organization does, but there are some key differences. We’ll go over those a little bit later. Right up front, though, we just want to focus on the basics of the national arm of the organization and all the good work they do.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

So, what is Child Care Aware of America?

Founded in 1987, Child Care Aware of America takes on the important task of working to advance the child care field. In pursuit of that goal, they split their efforts up into several different areas. You can categorize those areas by who the organization is striving to serve. 

One of those groups is parents. They want to connect parents of young children with the highest quality services they can. Another group is child care providers — CCAoA works to make sure that those professionals have all the training and resources they need. The final group is all of society, really. They do that through their advocacy work, getting involved in the policies surrounding child care at the national level.

But the national arm of Child Care Aware doesn’t do this all on its own. Child Care Aware of America works with a whole host of child care resource and referral agencies — over 400 of them nationwide! These are the organizations that can connect parents with the best child care providers in their area, and they do more localized work.

The national organization is also membership-based. Individuals and organizations (like child care resource and referral agencies) can buy a CCAoA membership and receive access to additional resources. These benefits range from being the first to know about Child Care Aware of America’s annual reports to discounts on event registration and so much more. 

Child Care Aware of America also acts as one of the primary child care resource networks in the country. That brings us to the next logical question…

What’s a child care resource network?

A child care resource network is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You might also hear them called child care resource and referral networks. Basically, one organization will connect parents and child care providers to different relevant resources. 

On the child care provider side, a child care resource network is going to link them up with training and professional development opportunities. They might offer scholarships for certain programs, and they’ll have more information about the regulations in their area of focus. Local child care resource networks are going to have all the information on what kinds of trainings you need to complete and what your options are for completing them. They’re plugged into their local community to get the right resources to the right people. 

On the parent side of things, a child care resource network also has a lot of information to offer. If you need assistance paying for child care, they can point you in the right direction. They can also give you good tips on what to look for in a child care provider, and they’ll also have tips on how to best care for your children yourself, or they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction to get that education. Child care providers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from child care trainings, and a child care resource network will be able to connect you with courses that might be helpful, like basic first aid.

Who does Child Care Aware of America serve?

As we stated in a previous section, this organization (like most child care resource networks) has three main areas of focus: Connecting parents with relevant resources, advancing child care providers’ careers, and advocating for better child care policy.

The organization’s main focus is on children up to 5 years old. It’s a well-known fact that the first five years of life are absolutely critical to brain development. The brain is developing rapidly, quicker than at any other point in our lives. Excess stress on children during this period can have long-lasting effects on their abilities to thrive later in life. Without high quality early childhood education and strong, responsive relationships with adults early on, children aren’t going to be as successful. This kind of good care can reduce the chance that children will have developmental delays. 

These are all reasons why Child Care Aware of America and its affiliates focus on childhood before kindergarten. With that in mind, the organization narrows its focus to families with children under 5, as well as child care providers who care for children before they hit kindergarten. Their advocacy and policy knowledge also focuses on pre-k children and child care systems. So, to answer the question of who the organization serves, it’s really anyone in the field who has an interest in bettering the conditions of children from birth to 5 years old.

Professional Development

A huge part of what this national child care resource network does is help child care providers hone their skills through different professional development programs. There are always new discoveries and advancements being made in the child care field, and keeping on top of them is no small task. It’s important to do, though, because it ensures that our youngest kids have the best possible care and therefore the best opportunities to succeed later in life.

Military Focus

Child Care Aware of America also does a lot of work with military families. The organization serves more than 10,000 military children each year. The specifics of the program will depend on which branch of the Armed Forces your family is part of, but no matter which one you fall under, you might be eligible for help with your child care costs if you don’t have access to an on-base child care provider. Those eligibility requirements will vary from branch to branch, so if you’re interested in one of these programs, definitely check for specifics. Child Care Aware of America is proud to help the families of those who serve our country, and they’d be happy to connect you with the right resources for your situation, if they can.

Advocacy

Another aspect of Child Care Aware of America that might not be immediately obvious is their advocacy. They want to make positive change to the child care field at the structural level, and that includes advocating for better resources from the government. They also have a lot of information for others to advocate on their own. Child Care Aware of America is a trusted source for how best to advance the child care field in this country. Their experts have a complete understanding of where child care policy has been in the past, and they use research and data to inform their ideas on how today’s policies can be improved.

They also have information and resources for individuals who would like to join their advocacy efforts. In the Advocacy section of their website, you can find all kinds of helpful resources, from sample social media posts on relevant topics to ways to contact your representatives and ideas of what to say when you do.

What doesn’t Child Care Aware of America do?

It should be pretty clear by now what Child Care Aware of America’s core services are. We’ve gone over them in several different sections, and we’ve also talked about who specifically the organization serves. Their main purpose should be pretty clear by now. However, we also wanted to make note of what the organization does not do, just so we’re all on the same page before we wrap this up. 

First of all, Child Care Aware of America doesn’t actually care for children. The organization (or one of its affiliates) can refer you to high-quality child care providers in your area, but they won’t take the tots in themselves. And while they can connect child care providers to resources and professional development opportunities, they’re not handing out degrees or anything like that themselves. As a child care resource network, they’re mostly just there to point you in the right direction for all your child care needs.

Also know that you’re often better off reaching out to your local child care resource network rather than going straight to the national branch. The national organization isn’t going to be up to date on all the goings on in your area, so keeping it local can help you get more specific information. That’s not to diminish how important the national organization is, but just keep in mind whether the information or resources you’re looking for is relevant to the whole country or just to your area.

Child Care Aware Near You

We’ve spoken about how Child Care Aware of America works with more local child care resource networks. You can find one through their website, but if you live in Missouri, we wanted to point you toward the Child Care Aware affiliate in your state. Child Care Aware of Missouri does a lot of the same work that we’ve discussed previously when it comes to child care resource networks, and they’ll be able to help you find the right resources in your area. Child Care Aware of Missouri serves families and child care providers statewide — check out some more specifics about them here.

This is just the start of what Child Care Aware of America is all about.

We’ve covered the core components of what makes this child care resource network so great, but that’s just the beginning. We couldn’t possibly get at every single detail of their organization in a single post. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out their website for more information.

CCAoA is doing important work every single day, and no matter who you are, you have something to gain from their efforts. If you’re a parent, they can point you in the direction of helpful resources in your area. Whether you need help paying for child care or just need some ideas on what to look for in a child care provider, they can get you some answers or put you in touch with the right people. 

If you’re a child care provider, then you can get all sorts of resources for your profession through CCAoA. You might even join as a member, and then you’ll get all kinds of helpful information to increase your expertise. 

And if you don’t fit into either of those categories, know that Child Care Aware of America is working to better our whole society. In that way, you’ll still benefit from their work. When parents can access high quality child care, they’re more productive, and their children grow up to be more successful and productive members of society. So, we all have something to gain from the great work this child care resource network does, and now you know some of what that important work is.

10 Helpful Child Services in Missouri

A child and a man smiling outdoors who could use child services in MissouriMaking sure your child has everything they need to thrive from their very first breaths is a daunting task. There are so many things they need, and only so many hours in the day. Plus, when you’ve got to go to work and leave them in the hands of a child care provider, how do you know they’re being well cared for? All these reasons are why child services in Missouri are so important.

You don’t have to go it alone. We’ve compiled 10 of the most helpful child services in Missouri, ranging from educational information on best child care practices to daycare resources. We’ll take you through how to get connected to each of the different organizations in our great state that offer some form of child services in Missouri. Our list is in no particular order; all the organizations we’ve got here are doing important work. Some of them definitely overlap a bit, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that at least can point you in the right direction of the services you need. If you’re in need of child services in Missouri, checking any of them out can be a great way to get your kids the help they need.

Plus, some of the organizations we’re listing are actively looking for people to get involved through volunteering or other ways to help expand their efforts. If you’re passionate about child care advocacy, then you might find a new organization to get involved with among these, too, if not a place to go for more support, like daycare resources.

We’ll get to each of these great organizations, but before we get into listing them, we want to go over why child services in Missouri are so important as well as all the different needs these organizations are trying to help alleviate. 

Child services in Missouri are critical.

We know how important it is to make sure kids have every possible opportunity to succeed in life. When children are well cared for, they’re more likely to grow up to be productive members of society. Specifically with daycare resources, we also know that when parents aren’t worried about their children and have safe, stable, high-quality care for them, then they’re also more productive at their jobs. Parents need to know that they can care for their kids properly, but they’re not always in the best place to do that all by themselves. 

That’s where all these different organizations and services come in. They do the important work of filling in the education and funding gaps for parents in Missouri, providing all kinds of highly helpful resources. Some of them have to do with all aspects of healthy living at home, while others are focused on supporting child care settings with daycare resources.

Also keep in mind that when we’re talking about the very youngest Missourians, sleep safe training is absolutely critical. Both as a part of required daycare resources and for parents, making sure babies are in safe sleeping environments is a key way to lower infant mortality numbers and avoid tragedies. According to the most recent data from the CDC, there are 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the state of Missouri, which is slightly higher than the national rate of 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. That means we need to be taking steps to protect our infants, and several of the organizations on this list are taking great strides in that direction. 

Okay, now that we’ve established how important the work of these organizations is, let’s jump into it. Here are 10 helpful child services in Missouri.

1. Missouri Foundation for Health

This is an organization that’s working to “eliminate inequities within all aspects of health.” That’s a lofty goal, and to achieve it, the organization does important work in several different sectors. In terms of child care and daycare resources, they’ve got a lot of information about healthy living and combatting childhood obesity. That mostly targets older kids, but they also do important work preventing infant mortality. To do that, they work with two more localized organizations, Bootheel Babies & Families and FLOURISH St. Louis. 

2. MissouriFamilies

This site run by the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri is a wealth of information for all kinds of Missouri families. They even have some training opportunities for child care providers, as well. Check out their website for all kinds of information and daycare resources.

3. Parents as Teachers 

This organization isn’t as focused on daycare resources as it is on making sure parents have all the knowledge they need to foster their child’s healthy development and get them ready for school. A big part of their work is sending parent educators to make home visits. Those professionals will regularly check in with the family from prenatal through kindergarten, ensuring a consistent, positive presence throughout those earliest years.

Parents as Teachers began in Missouri in the 1980s, and it has since expanded across the country and beyond. In all that time, they’ve placed a strong focus on basing methods and guidelines in the most recent research, and they’ve done a lot of good work. If you’re interested in elevating your parenting expertise, then getting involved with this organization is a great step to take in that direction.

4. Missouri Alliance for Children and Families

A lot of these organizations have similar names, but they’re by no means redundant. This organization helps children and families engaged in the foster care system. They endeavor to provide full case management services for those children and families, building bonds and connections between family members. The foster care system can be incredibly difficult, and this organization tries to help out where they can. The Missouri Alliance is driven to help strengthen families through their services. 

5. Missouri Early Childhood Special Education

There are all kinds of ways to get the extra help you might need to care for a child with disabilities. Different organizations that provide child services in Missouri will often also have resources for children with disabilities, but there are definitely organizations specifically devoted to helping those populations, as well. We’ll talk about at least one more of them a little later on, but first, there’s Missouri Early Childhood Special Education, which can help you get your child into programs they’ll really benefit from.

6. Ready Readers

This is a great volunteer opportunity if you live on the eastern side of the state. Ready Readers provides special kinds of daycare resources, bringing in books and volunteers to read them at early childhood centers and preschools. Getting kids excited about reading is a great way to set them up for success in school and in life, and Ready Readers endeavors to foster that lifelong love of reading. 

The downside here is that this is one of the few organizations on this list that doesn’t offer daycare resources throughout the entire state. However, if you live outside of the counties they serve, you can still check out their website for book suggestions and a lot of other helpful resources for optimizing your child’s reading experience. 

7. Missouri WIC

Most of the organizations we’ve listed so far are independent non-profits that work with the state of Missouri but aren’t government agencies. Here, we wanted to look at one of the offices run by the government that has a goal of helping children and families, especially those kids under 5 years old.

The first one is Missouri WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, to be more precise). This organization strives to make sure babies and kids under 5 have access to proper nutrition. According to their website, “the program is designed to help families improve their health and nutrition behaviors.” With their focus on home health and nutrition, you won’t find daycare resources among their offerings.

8. Early Head Start and Head Start Programs

This is technically a federal program, but they have many locations within the Show Me State. You’ve probably heard of the Head Start program, which offers free preschool for families that fall at or below the federal poverty line, but you might not be as familiar with Early Head Start, which serves babies and children up to age 3. This is definitely one of the most comprehensive daycare resources on this list, and these programs do a whole lot more than that. The goal is to help the whole family while also getting those kids ready for school, giving them the best possible shot in life. 

If you think you might qualify for one of these programs, make it a priority to check them out. You can see a list of all Missouri locations here.

9. Missouri Family to Family

Remember how we said there were several organizations that worked to help those with disabilities and their families? This is another one of them. Missouri Family to Family is run out of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, but it’s a statewide network of support. This organization offers peer mentoring for families who have a member with disabilities. They’re also happy to answer any questions you might have about benefits or getting connected with other organizations. They want to help you find the right resources, much like the goals of this list of child services in Missouri. Although Missouri Family to Family doesn’t focus specifically on pre-k kids, the organization should still be able to steer you in the right direction for those daycare resources. Give them a call to find out.

10. Child Care Aware of Missouri

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our own services on this list. While we don’t actually care  for children, we can provide you with a lot of resources on where to find the best care for your children 5 years old and under. If you need help finding specific child services in Missouri, we have a lot of ways to get you in contact with the appropriate agency or organization. 

Are you on the hunt for high-quality child care in your corner of the state? We have a database for that. We also have plenty of other daycare resources for you to peruse — what you should be looking for when you’re considering a child care program, questions you should ask, and what the licensing requirements are in our state, among other information. We’re a great resource for anybody trying to find the best child services in Missouri.

Our organization also helps create some of the best child services in Missouri. Through our child care provider training resources, we can help those caring for our youngest Missourians to do the very best job possible. It’s all about elevating the level of care and making sure people have access to it.

You can check out our website to try to find what you’re looking for, or you can contact us here

Now get out there and find the best child services in Missouri.

At this point, you’ve got plenty of places to start looking for child services in Missouri. No matter what kind of resources you need, you have different options to choose from. If you need financial aid to pay for child care, you’ve got plenty of places to seek that help from. If you just want educational materials on how to be the best parent possible, then there’s no shortage of ways to get that information. 

We’ve attempted to limit this list to organizations that offer child services throughout Missouri. However, there are also a lot of great organizations that are doing more localized work, especially if you live in a more metropolitan area. If you can’t find the right services from a statewide agency, like perhaps local daycare resources, then definitely look into organizations that are focused on your specific community.

Parenting is hard. You deserve all the help you can get. There are plenty of organizations that offer some form of child services in Missouri, and there’s no shame in availing yourself of those resources. That’s literally what they’re there for. It’s all in the name of making sure our children have the best possible opportunities to thrive, and that benefits everyone.

Answering All Your Questions About CDA Certification in Missouri

Child care provider helping a student, using her CDA certification in MissouriBecoming more highly qualified as a child care provider has so many benefits — benefits for you, for the children you care for, for their parents, and for society at large. Those are some big incentives. Even if you want to advance your knowledge and career, though, it might be hard to find somewhere to start. That’s where a CDA certification in Missouri comes in. 

If you’re asking, “What is a CDA in child care?” then we probably need to start at the very beginning. CDA stands for Child Development Associate. A national organization called the Council for Professional Recognition sponsors this prestigious certification, and it’s recognized worldwide. We’re here to answer all your questions about this certification, going far beyond just, “What is a CDA in child care?” 

Embarking on a journey like achieving your CDA certification in Missouri can be a little daunting, but hopefully, having all the relevant information will make the process slightly less intimidating. We’ve attempted to compile some of the most common questions about the certification, from basics like, “What is a CDA in child care?” to more in-depth questions like how long the process takes and how often you have to renew a CDA certification in Missouri. We’ll even direct you to more resources, where appropriate.

Okay, without further ado, let’s get into it. Here’s your (mostly) complete guide to achieving your CDA certification.

What is a CDA in Child Care?

A CDA in child care is a certification that proves you have what it takes to be a successful early childhood care provider. It’s a way to quantify your knowledge and expertise in this very complex field. Earning your CDA certification in Missouri is going to be a major boost toward advancing your career in early childhood education. 

Because the process of earning a CDA has multiple steps, there are several different pieces involved in answering the question, “What is a CDA in child care?” There are three main elements: An exam, an observation, and a professional portfolio. We’ll give you more detail on those in the “How do I earn my CDA certification in Missouri?” section a little later on, but the goal right here is to provide a high-level overview of the certification. 

The bottom line is that the CDA is a well-respected credential, and if you’re interested in furthering your career in early childhood education, it’s definitely something you should look into.

Do I need child care experience to apply for a CDA? 

Yes. Before you can even start the process, you need to complete 480 hours of experience working with young children and 120 hours of formal training. The specific requirements for that training will depend on which track you’re choosing. You can pick from Center-Based Preschool, Center-Based Infant-Toddler, Family Child Care, and Home Visitor. No matter which track you choose, you need that training to cover eight different areas. They are:

  • Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
  • Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
  • Supporting children’s social and emotional development
  • Building productive relationships with families
  • Managing an effective program operation
  • Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  • Observing and recording children’s behavior
  • Understanding principles of child development and learning

There will be slight variations depending on the track you’ve chosen. In terms of experience, you also need to keep the observation component of the CDA in mind. You’ll need to be actively working or volunteering in a child care job in your chosen track in order for the CDA PD specialist to observe you working with children. We’ll dive deeper into the exact requirements of the different stages of the process in the next section. For now, it’s just important to note that you do need a fairly significant amount of child care experience and training before you can begin pursuing your CDA.

How do I earn my CDA certification in Missouri?

To earn your CDA certification in Missouri (or in any other state, but since we’re located in Missouri, that’s where we’ll keep our focus), you need to prove that you’re a qualified child care provider. There are several steps to this process. You can view them all in detail on the Council for Professional Recognition’s site, but we’ll give you a brief overview here. We touched on the three main components of the CDA in the “What is a CDA in child care?” section earlier, so now, let’s get a little more detailed. 

The Exam

This test consists of 65 multiple-choice questions, and they’ll be a lot tougher than, “What is a CDA in child care?” You’ll take the exam on a computer at a testing center. It covers different aspects of child care. You might leave your test anxiously wondering whether you passed or not, but that’s not how this exam works. The Council takes your exam results and weighs them with the other aspects of your application, and you’ll only hear if you achieved the credential or not. You won’t know if you “passed” the exam or not. So, take all the different components seriously, and one you’re stronger in might balance out your weaker spots.

The Observation

A CDA PD specialist will visit the place where you work or volunteer with children and assess how you do. Before they can do that, though, you’ll need to find a PD specialist in your area and contact them — you can start that process here

Once you’ve found a PD specialist to conduct the observation, they’ll look over your professional portfolio, which we’ll touch on in the next section. They’ll also speak to you in a reflection period, discussing your different strengths and weaknesses that they’ve identified from their observations. 

The Portfolio

The professional portfolio is the final piece to the CDA certification in Missouri. You will need to submit several different kinds of documents as part of your portfolio: Education documentation, family questionnaires, reflective statements of competence, resources, and a professional philosophy statement. Remember that the PD specialist will review your portfolio as part of your observation.

Who recognizes a CDA certification in Missouri?

CDA enjoys worldwide recognition, so any child care provider worth their salt in Missouri should be duly impressed by your CDA certification. They’ll know all the steps you had to take to go from learning what a CDA in child care is to earning one for yourself.

What kind of barriers to entry are there?

There are definitely financial barriers to completing your CDA certification in Missouri. The application for the test alone costs upwards of $400, and that’s not factoring in any training or studying costs. You’ll have to buy the CDA Competency Standards book when you apply for your initial credential, and there are two other books the Council offers to help you prepare for your portfolio and exam.

Depending on your area and circumstances, you might struggle with other aspects of the process, too — you might have trouble locating a suitable PD specialist, or you might face difficulties scheduling training and work experience hours. Fortunately, there are other organizations that can help you diminish these barriers to entry, specifically the cost.

Can I get help paying for my CDA certification in Missouri?

Yes. There are definitely CDA scholarship opportunities out there to help you earn that credential. For example, Child Care Aware of Missouri offers a CDA Scholarship Project, paying for your application fee, a bonus once you complete your CDA certification in Missouri, and supporting you along the way. If you’re interested in earning a CDA certification in Missouri, Child Care Aware of Missouri is definitely the place to go for assistance. 

However, if you live in a different state, you should check with your local child care resource and referral agencies. You should be able to find assistance with earning your CDA no matter what state you live in.

How long does it take to achieve a CDA certification?

It will depend. If you’re counting from when you find out what a CDA in child care is to the time you’ve completed your certification, it can be quite some time. You have to rack up all those training and experience hours before you can apply, take the exam, and complete your observation, after all. You’ll definitely want to take your time studying for the exam and compiling your portfolio items. But once you’ve completed all of the components, it shouldn’t take more than a handful of business days to find out whether you’ve achieved the certification or not.

When do I have to renew my CDA certification in Missouri?

A CDA is valid for three years. That might not sound like very long, but with a field this complex, it’s important to stay up-to-date. You won’t be asking basic questions like, “What is a CDA in child care?” anymore, but you might still have questions about that important renewal process. 

There are certain requirements you have to meet before you can apply for renewal. You need to have completed a certain amount of training, including approved first aid and pediatric CPR training (check out this PDF for more specifics). You’ll also have to be a current member of an early childhood education professional organization when you apply for renewal, and you’ll need someone to serve as your verifier. The last component (other than the $125 fee) is verification of 80 hours of work in your chosen child care setting.

Do make sure you renew your CDA before it expires — you can submit your renewal application as much as six months before that expiration date. If you want to change the track you chose for your CDA, you’ll have to go through the regular process again, not the renewal process.

If you have any more questions about the process, you can get free renewal guides from the Council for Professional Recognition. 

Where can I go for more help in this process?

Like we said at the beginning, the Council’s website is a great resource for more in-depth information on all the different steps in the process. There, you can also look up organizations that offer further assistance. Plus, we’ve also mentioned Child Care Aware of Missouri as a good place to go for more help, specifically if you’re trying to earn a CDA certification in Missouri.

How will I benefit from achieving my CDA certification in Missouri?

We’ve already touched on how you’ll benefit in the “What is a CDA in child care?” section — namely, through opportunities for career advancement. Having this sort of well-recognized credential to add to your resume can open up all kinds of new career opportunities. 

Not only will you benefit, but so will the children in your program. Through the training, exam, and reflection components, you’ll grow as a child care provider. You’ll have the skills to give the children in your care an even better jump start on their futures. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Now you know the answer to, “What is a CDA in child care?”

We’ve answered that question quite thoroughly — at least, we hope we did! To dive into all the intricacies of a CDA certification, we answered that initial question as well as a lot of other, supplementary ones. We went through the initial process of earning a CDA as well as the basics on how to renew the credential before it expires. Now, you should know how to set off on your CDA journey, what resources you’ll need, and how you’ll benefit once you achieve your CDA certification in Missouri. 

From “What is a CDA in child care?” to “How will I benefit form a CDA?” all your most pressing questions about this certification should have been addressed here. If not, we also directed you toward other resources to help you along the CDA process, and they’ll be more help than a simple blog post ever could be. 

You may have started out by asking, “What is a CDA in child care?” We hope you’ll end up earning that credential and spreading the wealth, explaining what a CDA in child care is to the next group of interested child care professionals.

The Top Benefits of Child Care Professional Training

Woman caring for a crawling boy in child care professional trainingWe live in a society that doesn’t always value child care professional training. There’s a pervasive cultural myth that child care providers are glorified babysitters and that pretty much anybody could do a fine job. That’s simply not true. Just like any other professional, child care providers need specialized training in order to do the best possible work.

Extra training isn’t the easiest sell for some people. It takes valuable time, and it might cost some money to get into certain training programs. However, those costs are definitely worth the end result. 

Here, we’ll try to convince you of that. We’ve broken the different benefits of child care professional training into the different groups it helps, detailing how each segment of the population has something to gain from increased training in whatever form that takes, from college courses to on-demand child care training. Those groups range from very specific, like parents and children, to very broad, like society at large. By the end, you should realize that everyone has something to gain from increased child care professional training.

Benefits to Child Care Facilities

Child care centers and other types of child care facilities might not see the immediate benefits of providing child care professional training for their employees. After all, if they were qualified enough to get the job, how much more training could they actually need?

Turns out, quite a lot.

Exceed Expectations

First of all, not all states have very strict requirements for the amount of training required for all entry-level child care workers. In Missouri, not all child care providers are required to have a license — namely, religious organizations and small, in-home child caregivers. The state of Missouri requires caregivers in licensed child care facilities to complete 12 clock hours of training each year. However, if you’re working in one of these license exempt settings, you’re not required to take the trainings that others are. So, a baseline qualification often doesn’t really cut it in terms of giving potential clients peace of mind. 

This is all to say that especially if you run a license-exempt operation, offering and encouraging more training can help you stand out from the pack. Just because it isn’t required by the state doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.

Keeping Up with the Industry

Perhaps an even more important reason, though, is that the child care world is always changing. New research uncovers new best practices, and new data informs new rules and regulations. It’s important to keep up. Child care professional training is one of the best (and only) ways to make sure your staff is studying up on any new recommendations or methodologies. 

Attracting More Business

Keeping your staff well educated with child care professional training will also make your facility more attractive to parents looking for a trustworthy place to care for their children. We’ll talk more about how parents benefit from child care professional training in a little bit, but it’s worth mentioning here that parents definitely care about child care professionals’ backgrounds. If they’ve done their homework, they’ll likely ask about it before enrolling their children. Child care providers will want to have a good answer for their questions about the level of child care professional training offered to their staff. 

In-Person Trainings

So, this is all to say that it pays to have a well-trained staff, and making that training accessible to them is one way a child care center can increase the level of child care professional training among its workers. On-demand child care training definitely has its benefits and is appropriate in some settings, but one of the main benefits of child care professional training provided by a child care facility is that it can be in person. If you offer up your space to a seminar, then that makes getting hands-on training that much more accessible for your employees.

Benefits to Child Care Providers

Of course, one of the main benefits is compliance with the law. Missouri child care workers need to log 12 clock hours of training each year, and if you live in another state, you should definitely check out the requirements in your area. This is one area where on-demand child care training can be super helpful. In Missouri, you can go to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Childhood website and find various on-demand child care training courses you can take to count toward those annual hours. 

Increased Earning Potential 

Especially if you earn a prestigious form of child care certification or degree, you’ll qualify for higher paid positions, and you’ll have the leverage to negotiate a higher salary. The more training you’ve gotten, the more you’re potentially worth to a child care facility.

In addition to simple courses like on-demand child care training, you can go after well-respected certifications. One of those is the Child Development Associate Credential. It’s a fairly involved process, and although it’s not as accessible as something like a basic on-demand child care training class, it can definitely be attainable. Learn how we can help you earn your CDA here.

New Opportunities

How many new positions you become qualified for after you complete some training will largely depend on what kind of training it was, but the point stands that generally, the more knowledge you amass, the more different kinds of positions you can excel in.

Maybe you’ve been a child care worker for some time now, and you’re interested in moving into a different role in that sector. Gaining a new position will likely be a lot easier with the right kind of education under your belt. One on-demand child care training class isn’t going to change your life or your prospects, but it might open some doors to other types of experience you can get. 

Benefits to Children

How children benefit from child care professional training should be pretty obvious. We’ll explain it in detail anyway, though, because we’re nothing if not thorough.

School Readiness and Lifelong Success

When those kids get higher quality child care, they have a better chance at success. The best early childhood care will help young kids gain communication and social skills, early math and pre-literacy knowledge, and foster healthy brain development. They’ll also be more aware of the roles different people play in the world around them. Early childhood is a critical period in brain development, and making sure kids have access to highly trained professionals is a great way to set them up for later success.

These different benefits all work together, too. Child care workers who receive proper benefits from their employers, like continuing child care professional training, are less likely to leave. That reduced turnover rate will benefit the children in the program because they’re able to form bonds with the people caring for them. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, fostering responsive relationships between children and adults is one of the most important steps we can take to ensure healthy development. Providing the appropriate child care professional training is one way to help make sure that happens.

Increased Safety

Not only are kids who receive high quality care more ready for school and life beyond, they’re also safer. Of course, basic safety training is a requirement. Courses like CPR and sleep safe training are absolutely vital to ensuring children’s safety, and they shouldn’t be considered extra add-ons — they’re just necessary. However, there are also further classes you can take to increase the safety of your charges.

Even on-demand child care training can teach important safety practices for child care providers. While some things, like CPR, really benefit from an in-person practice component, others can be effectively taught through on-demand child care training. That makes for an accessible way to increase the education level of child care providers.

Safety is always of paramount importance. Children are safer when the people caring for them are more highly trained.

More Inclusivity

Some trainings are designed to broaden the capabilities of child care facilities and their workers. Child care providers can struggle to care for children with disabilities if they don’t have the proper tools, resources, and training. More child care workers taking part in courses that focus on the proper ways to care for children with different disabilities will mean more children will have access to care that works for them.

Benefits to Parents

Sending your child to a child care facility with highly trained professionals is going to give parents much greater peace of mind. And when parents don’t need to worry about the kind of care their children are receiving, then they can be more productive members of the workforce.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt for parents to check out on-demand child care training videos for themselves, either. Child care professional training might not be appropriate for them, but there are plenty of on-demand child care trainings that are relevant to parenting, too. Since they’re so readily accessible, they might be a good option for many parents looking to increase their knowledge and skills when it comes to caring for their children. Important skills like CPR and first aid fall under this umbrella. 

Parents often struggle to pay for child care. It’s notoriously expensive, and that leaves them in tough situations. They might have an easier time justifying the cost if they’re completely certain their children are receiving high-quality care, and training is a huge part of that.

Benefits to Society

Maybe this subheading seems a bit lofty. You might doubt the fact that a few on-demand child care training courses could actually have any meaningful impact on society at large. However, it’s a lot more than that. 

The positive impacts of child care professional training don’t stop at those who are directly influenced. A whole community can see the benefits of high quality child care professional training. 

Think about it. If child care workers are providing higher quality care, the children are better cared for, and their parents are more confident leaving them to go to work. You’ll get more productive workers that way. Plus, the workers of tomorrow will be better equipped to contribute meaningfully to society. Setting kids up for success at an early age is a great way to invest in the future of our society. 

So, maybe a few on-demand child care training classes don’t seem like much. But add up all those other benefits, and you’ll see just how impactful child care professional training can be.

Child care professional training has wide-reaching benefits.

As we’ve discussed, employing more highly trained child care workers is a benefit to everyone in a myriad of ways. Some child care centers might be reluctant to spend time and resources on training. However, as we explained, it’s definitely worth it for them, for their employees, for the children in their care, for those children’s parents, and for society at large. That’s a big burden to carry, but even something as simple as an on-demand child care training class can make a great step in the right the direction. 

And if you’re a child care worker whose employer doesn’t provide professional development, there are ways you can get more training without them, too. You’ll see more doors open for you, especially if you pursue one of the more well-respected and well-known certifications or degrees in the field. Children receiving that high-quality care will be better set up for success in the future, and their parents will be more comfortable leaving them and going to work. Society benefits from both of those things, getting a more productive and less worried worker today and a higher-quality worker in the future. 

That’s our high level summary of why it’s a great idea to make child care professional training more accessible. One way to do that is to pursue on-demand child care training, which can be a great option for a lot of different courses. Definitely look into your options to seek more training if you work in this field, or how to support those efforts if you don’t. We’ll all thank you for it.

Back-to-School Child Care Resources

Woman and child coloring, making use of child care resourcesIt’s back-to-school season, and even if your child isn’t school-aged, that can mean big changes from your summer schedule. Maybe they’re ready to start preschool, or maybe you’re headed back to class yourself. Whatever your situation, the changing season will often bring a changing need for child care resources. 

That’s where we come in. This article is here to help you fill the gap between the child care resources you needed over the summer and the ones you’ll need this fall. We’ll point you toward the child care community resources available to you. You should definitely take advantage of them.

Here, we’ve compiled some of our best tips and also some suggestions on other places to seek out information and child care community resources. We’ve split them up into six different groups for your convenience. Some are based on the sector they serve, like healthcare, finance, and education, while others are focused on the types of people they serve, like parents who are also students or child care providers. We’re also giving you suggestions on where to look in your specific area for further child care community resources. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Healthcare Resources

Every child deserves access to high quality healthcare. The child care resources in this section recognize that and endeavor to make certain services as widely available as possible. 

There are also child care community resources in the healthcare space. Check to see what kinds of programs your local community center and government are putting on to get everyone ready for the fall and back-to-school season. Some areas put on vaccination clinics to make sure all kids are up to date on their immunizations before they head back to class. Check with your local government or other community organizations to see about the free or low-cost healthcare services available to you and your family.

Some child care facilities employ the services of child care health consultants. These are experts in child health and development, and they work with child care providers to ensure that their environment is safe and healthy. We’ll touch on some more child care resources for child care providers in a later section, so stay tuned. But these professionals are a great healthcare resource to get started.

Financial Resources

We know that child care can be expensive. Many families in Missouri and nationwide struggle to pay for appropriate child care, and as a result, they’re often searching for child care resources that can help them meet that need. If you find yourself in need this back-to-school season, it’s important to know what your options are. 

To read more about all your different financial help options, you can check out our post about it here. If you don’t want to read an entire other post, though, we’ve still got you covered.

Basically, your financial child care resources can be broken up into a few different groups. One is programs funded by the child care facility your child attends. Another grouping consists of child care community resources, like those offered to members of a specific group, or ones paid for by the state with certain income requirements. Check if your workplace has a child care option, and if not, ask if your employer offers any other child care resources you could take advantage of. There are also state-funded child care subsidies that you might qualify for if you meet certain requirements. 

The basic premise here is that there are lots of organizations that can offer you financial child care community resources, you just need to figure out which ones you qualify for.

Educational Resources

You were probably more in need of educational child care resources over the summer, but we’ve still got some ideas for you this back-to-school season. A great place to start is your school district or your child’s teacher, if they have one.

However, maybe you’re looking to enroll your child in a preschool program this fall, and you’re in need of some things to look for in the schools you’re considering. We’ve got you covered.

What to Look for in a Preschool

If you’re going to be dropping you child off at a preschool program for the first time, you’ll want to know that they’re going to be well taken care of. It can be a little nerve wracking to leave your child in the care of someone you don’t know very well, but there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you’re leaving them in capable hands. 

Check for licenses and accreditation.

The first thing you want to be sure of in any school environment is that the staff has the proper credentials to be caring for and educating your child. Don’t be shy about asking about their experience and credentials, and be extra sure that everyone working with your child has passed a background check. 

Not all preschool and child care facilities are required to have a license in Missouri. Specifically, religious preschools do not have to have annual fire and safety inspections. Keep that in mind when you’re looking at different places. For most other organizations, though, you should ask to see a copy of their license, registration, certification, and inspection history. You can also check out one of the online child care resources offered by the state: Their inspection report archive. You should be able to find details about any issues these inspections might have uncovered over the years. If the program you’re considering has a good track record, proceed with a little more peace of mind.

Ask about the staff.

Beyond licensing, though, there’s a lot more you need to know about a potential preschool for your child. You should ask about the school’s staff turnover rate. A large amount of staff leaving after only a short time is a red flag. You don’t want your child to have to get used to a bunch of different teachers. Plus, you don’t want to get mixed up with a place where the staff doesn’t want to stay — that could indicate something’s off with their practices or that they don’t have the appropriate child care resources on hand.

Know what your child will be up to.

You’ll want to know how your child will be spending their time at preschool, so you should ask about what activities the school has planned and what a typical day might look like. This includes things you might not initially think of, like what food will be served and how discipline is handled.

You can also inquire about their curriculum. It’s important to find a preschool that uses a curriculum that’s based in science, meaning it’s been proven that it gets children ready for school. There should be clear learning goals set in place, and the activities that your child participates in should be linked to those objectives. You will probably also want to visit the preschool so you can see what kinds of materials and other child care resources they have to facilitate learning. Also make sure that the program’s ideals and beliefs align with your own.

Ensure there will be open communication going forward.

How your child is going to spend their time at the program is super important, but there are also more procedural and behind-the-scenes factors to consider. We could spend all day talking about the little details of what makes a preschool program stand out from the pack. However, we’ll hold back from getting too far deep in the weeds — let’s end this section on a broader point about how your child care resources should communicate with you.

You want to be sure that you’re sending your child to a program that’s going to involve the whole family in their education. There should be protocols in place to let you know what kind of progress your child is making. Definitely ask about this if the preschool doesn’t make it abundantly clear.

Child Care Community Resources 

Many of the resources we’ve talked about thus far could technically be considered child care community resources, but we thought it would be a good idea to round up some of the best child care community resources under one convenient subheading for you.

Your local library is always a great resource. Check to see what kinds of programs they host, both for you and for your child — you might be able to get the whole family excited about reading. If you have a children’s museum in your area, check out what kinds of child care community resources they might offer. You’re probably already be aware of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, but they offer some very comprehensive child care community resources for those who qualify. 

Other sources of child care community resources include your local government, community centers, and other service organizations based in your area.

Resources for Students

If you’re the one strapping on your backpack and going back to school this fall, then you’ll likely need additional help to make sure your child is well taken care of. The first option you might want to look into is any child care resources offered by your school. They might have an on-site child care facility for students and staff, or they might offer financial assistance with external child care. They also might not offer anything at all in the way of child care resources, but it doesn’t hurt to look into it and ask. 

There’s also the possibility of other child care community resources for students with children. Do some digging into local organizations, and see if they offer any child care resources for students like you.

Resources for Child Care Providers

Up to this point, we’ve been targeting families with young children who need additional child care resources. At this juncture, we’d like to take a bit of a detour and point out some specific child care community resources for those who provide the child care itself.

If you’re a child care provider, you know it’s a demanding profession, and you can benefit from any help you can get. If you want to head back to school yourself this season, there are all kinds of trainings and classes you can take to further your education and become an even better child care provider.

One thing you can do is work toward achieving your CDA. We’ve written more about that whole process elsewhere, but here’s the long story short: To prove you’re a high-quality care provider, you can take an exam, submit a portfolio and documentation of training hours, and then be observed by CDA PD specialist. If you need help paying for it, you can check out one of your CDA scholarship opportunities here.

Like we told the students needing child care resources in the previous section, you can also reach out to all those organizations that offer child care community resources to see if they have any programs specifically for child care providers. 

There are plenty of child care resources out there.

The world of child care resources can definitely be confusing, but as we’ve pointed out, there are so many places to get the help you need. One way to start can be identifying what type of child care resources you’re looking for. Since it’s such a wide and complicated field, narrowing in on one segment of it can help focus your efforts. 

That’s not to say that you should limit the kind of child care community resources you’re seeking out, though. All the programs we’ve mentioned are there to help you first and foremost, so don’t worry about asking for too much — they’re here to help you out when they can. If you qualify for assistance, take advantage of it.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you, your child, and your whole family are getting all the resources you need to thrive. Hopefully, we’ve listed most of the ones you might need here, and you should have some good resources for more research if you need something we haven’t covered. We couldn’t possibly get all the child care community resources available to you on one little list, but we did our best. With these resources backing you up, you should be primed to have the most successful back-to-school season possible. Good luck! 

9 Essential Kinds of Child Care Providers Training

A woman with a baby in child care providers trainingWe probably don’t have to tell you that child care providers training is one of the most vital ways of ensuring our children are well cared for. When child care providers have the appropriate knowledge and skills, they can use their expertise to provide the highest quality care for all the children they are charged with.

As such, many states require a certain number of child care providers training hours each year. In Missouri, you need to log 12 clock hours of approved child care providers training in order to remain a licensed caregiver. Not all of the types of child care providers training on this list will fulfill that requirement, but they are all programs that will make you a better child care provider, which is its own reward.

Some of the programs listed here are geared more toward getting you ready to start your career as a child care provider, while others are intended for those who are already established in the field. Skim through and identify which ones would best suit your needs, then you can use that as a jumping off point for the kinds of child care providers training that you want to pursue. We’ve included information about ways you can get help paying for some of these programs where appropriate, like a CDA scholarship (more on that later). 

Okay, with all those caveats out of the way, let’s get into it. Here are nine child care providers trainings that can help take your career to the next level.

1. CPR and First Aid

This is likely the most basic child care providers training course out there. CPR and First Aid classes are very common and very easy to find. Not only is it an essential child care providers training, but it’s also vital to many other types of positions. 

You’ll learn a lot of valuable skills in this type of course. By the end, you should be prepared to react in emergency situations and provide the right kind of care. There are special instructions when it comes to CPR for children and infants, so you should make sure the course you take covers those, too.

We decided to start with this one because it’s easily accessible, vitally important, and it’s also required by the state of Missouri. To count for those state requirements, the training must be conducted at least partially in person. You also have to take the training from one of the approved models (you can find the list here). 

CPR and First Aid training will count toward your annual clock hours as long as the person or organization that trains you was approved by the Section for Child Care Regulation. If you opt for a CPR and First Aid course that is partially online and partially in person, the online portion will not count toward those clock hours. 

2. Water Safety

Maybe you don’t anticipate being in the water in your child care job, but adding on water safety skills to your child care providers training can be a nice bonus. It might open up all kinds of other opportunities for you. Plus, it’s better to be over prepared than underprepared. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to watch children around a body of water, you’ll be glad you took this type of training, even if it seemed unnecessary at the time.

Much like CPR and First Aid training, this sort of course is not all that difficult to come by. You’ll learn how to reduce the risk of drowning as much as possible with a focus on young children, and you’ll learn various concepts and techniques for how to prevent a tragedy in the water. There’s also often an emphasis on applying these ideas and methods to common situations you might encounter. By the end of the training, you should be fairly confident in your abilities to keep children safe around pools and other bodies of water.

This probably isn’t the first training you think of or one of the first you should complete on your journey to becoming a child care provider, but it’s a nice one to add on, especially if your job involves water. This next kind of child care providers training, however, is one that’s absolutely essential.

3. Sleep Safe Training

The state of Missouri requires this type of course for child care facilities that are licensed to care for kids less than one year old. You’ll need to take this class once every three years to stay up-to-date on all the latest best practices. These will also count toward your yearly clock hours. There’s a list of approved providers that you can find here, if you’re interested.

In one of these trainings, you’ll learn all about how to keep infants safe while they’re sleeping. You’ll learn about the position they should be in (on their backs), what should be in the crib with them (essentially nothing), and all the other essential information on making sure babies are sleeping properly and with the lowest chance of harm.

In 2019, about 1,250 infants died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in the United States, and another 960 died due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. In a sleep safe training course, you’ll learn best practices to prevent more avoidable infant deaths. We’ll talk about other child care providers training programs that are geared toward those caring for the youngest kids a little later, but a sleep safe training is a great place to start if you want to work with babies.

4. DHSS Online Training

This is less a type of child care providers training and more of a training resource. The Department of Health and Senior Services offers a variety of online courses to help you fulfill your clock hour requirements. They cover a range of topics — licensing, social and emotional health, poison safety, transportation, and more.

Even though these are completely online, they will count toward your yearly clock hours, and each course should tell you how many hours you’ll receive before you begin. There are quite a lot of rules and regulations regarding these, so make sure to read through them before you get started. All that information can be found here.

5. Youth Nutrition Specialist

Everybody has to eat, and making sure kids eat well is a key part of effective child care. Although these types of certifications are typically geared more toward existing nutritionists and health professionals, it can also be an addition onto your other child care providers training programs. You’ll learn about how to create nutritional plans and strategies for individual kids and all the things that go into that, which will support kids’ healthy growth. 

Unlike the CDA and CDA scholarship opportunities, which we’ll get into in more depth later, there aren’t very many financial aid options here. If you want to earn a degree in nutrition or a related field, that’s a bit of a different story. With just a certification, though, you’ll likely be on your own to cover the cost.

6. Certified Children’s Fitness Specialist

Much in the same vein as the youth nutrition specialist training, this one is not a required child care providers training, and it might not be one everyone’s interested in. Especially if you’re going to focus on caring for infants, fitness training might seem unnecessary to your career.

However, it might be a good add-on training if you’re passionate about getting kids moving. Childhood obesity affects one out of every five children and adolescents in the United States, making it a huge issue to tackle. This isn’t just a problem for older kids, either — the CDC’s most recent data shows that obesity affected 13.4 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds.

Again, like the nutrition certification, you’re probably going to have to pay for this one on your own. There are a lot of different organizations out there that provide this sort of training, though, and they come at various price points. Make it happen if your calling is increasing kids’ fitness levels.

7. Special Needs Care

Although this type of training isn’t required, it’s essential to making sure all children are cared for properly. There are a few options for this in Missouri. One is to look on the Missouri Workshop Calendar to find an inclusion specialist providing training, which will count toward your required clock hours. The other is to contact the inclusion specialist in your region and set up a session with them. That course will cost a small fee. The plus side, though, is that it’s so small most people shouldn’t have any trouble paying it and don’t need a program like a CDA scholarship. Which brings us to our next form of child care providers training…

8. CDA

One way to prove that you’ve had adequate child care providers training is by achieving your Child Development Associate (CDA). That’s a well-recognized credential that includes exam, observation, and portfolio components. We’ve been mentioning it and CDA scholarship opportunities throughout because it’s one of the most comprehensive child care providers trainings on this list. If you earn a CDA, you’ll be signaling to the world and your profession that you have the knowledge and skills to provide high-quality child care, and that you’re dedicated to your profession.

CDA Scholarships

If you need help paying for the program, you might be eligible for a CDA scholarship. The CDA costs $425 for an online application and $500 for a paper application, and that’s not including all the professional education hours you need to have completed before you ever submit an application. That can make it prohibitively expensive for some looking to break into the child care field. 

That’s why a CDA scholarship can be so beneficial. CDA scholarships are available through several different programs, and the CDA scholarship you opt to apply for will depend on how you want to earn those hours. Some states will offer a CDA scholarship to anyone who is income eligible, paying for some or all of your training, and potentially covering the assessment fee, as well. You should check with your state to see if you’d be a good candidate for their CDA scholarship program, if they have one.

If your state doesn’t have a CDA scholarship program, don’t let that stop you from achieving this designation. You should look into any other CDA scholarship options that might be available to you — reach out to your local child care resource and referral organization to get help.

9. Newborn Care Specialist Association Certification

This will be a helpful child care providers training if you want to work with infants. They require specialized care, so even if you’re great with slightly older children, it helps to familiarize yourself with their specific needs. That’s what this type of child care providers training accomplishes. 

To achieve this certification, you have to pass the exam set by the NCSA. To be able to do that, you’ll need to have taken the correct courses.

Unlike a CDA scholarship, an NCSA scholarship might come from the organization itself. You’ll need to contact them for more information about that, but if you can show that you need help paying for the training, the NCSA might offer you a scholarship.

Child care providers training is vital.

This list of potential training opportunities is far from exhaustive. There are nearly countless ways you can improve your abilities as a child care provider, and these are just a few of the most common, most important, and most accessible ones. We’ve taken you through opportunities that are quick classes and others that are intensive programs. We’ve also pointed out where you might have a good chance of getting help paying for those programs, like with a CDA scholarship. 

We definitely encourage you to do more research into any of these training courses that you think could advance your career or just make you a better child care provider. If you have any questions or need any resources, don’t be afraid to reach out to us here.

Careers in Early Child Development and Care

A baby playing with an early child development and care worker It’s no secret that affordable, quality child care can be hard to come by in the U.S. The facilities are often understaffed and overworked, and the costs can be difficult for families to keep up with. In spite of all this, many compassionate professionals feel drawn to the early child development and care industry. Whether they’ve always liked kids and just want to tap into those skills or they are ready to take on a new challenge, there’s plenty of opportunity in this field.

To get into the early child development and care space, there are certain steps you need to take. It’s a career path that requires specialized training, so you’ll need to complete some kind of program to prepare you for that. Some people decide to get bachelor’s or even master’s degrees in early child development and care or related fields. Others can’t spend the time and money to get a degree. 

If you’re in that second boat but would still like to start a career in child care, there are options for you. Earning a certificate in child care and education can open up that world to you in a much more attainable timeframe. Below, we’ve explained a little more about what that process looks like. Then, we’ll take you through the different ways you can put that certificate in child care and education to good use.

How to Get a Certificate in Child Care and Education

Earning this kind of certificate is an essential first step in pursuing a career in early child development and care. Many schools offer programs to earn these types of certificates. To find one, you’ll need to do some searching in your area. You might also have some luck finding an online option if the in-person courses around you are few and far between. These programs will also include an internship component. It’s a great way to gain some experience in this line of work while still learning the fundamentals. 

Careers in Early Child Development and Care

So, now that you know how to earn a certificate in child care and education, you’re ready to find the right career utilizing that training. The next step is exploring all your different options in this field. We’ll start you out with some information on a bunch of potential roles within this sphere. Then, you can go out and do your own research. The following list should help you find the right niche within the early child development and care space. 

Preschool Teacher

Let’s start with the obvious. Many people get a certificate in child care and education to teach in a preschool setting. However, this might not always qualify you for the role. Some preschools require their teachers to have associate or bachelor’s degrees. This isn’t the case in all schools, but if you really have your heart set on being a preschool teacher, a certificate in child care and education might not be your first choice. See if you can find any information about the requirements in your state before making a decision. 

However, this kind of certificate plus some experience in early child development and care can take you a long way. To get a bit of a better idea about what being a preschool teacher is like, let’s look at some of the different preschool environments you might want to work in.

Montessori Schools

While most preschools aren’t as structured as, say, a high school class (you won’t see many 3 year olds sitting quietly doing their math homework), this type of preschool is even looser than most. It prioritizes the child’s individual desires. The goal is to let the child lead — they’re allowed to decide what they’d like to do, and there’s little formal instruction. Teachers will literally and figuratively follow their students and try to support them that way.

The Montessori method is very popular, but it’s also not for everyone. Some people won’t thrive in that kind of unstructured environment. If that sounds like you, you should probably look into a different kind of early child development and care career.  

You will also need more training than just a certificate in child care and education to work in this kind of environment. To provide a true Montessori education, you’ll need to be well versed in the ins and outs of that whole philosophy. That’s where the extra training comes in. We singled out Montessori schools because it’s one of the most popular preschool philosophies, but there are other methods out there, too. Do some reading into the different mindsets toward early child development and care, and then you can pick the one that speaks the most to you.

If you strongly believe in this manner of educating youngsters, then it’s definitely worth a little more reading — plenty of people have written about the theory over the years. If this doesn’t sound up your alley, though, don’t worry. Keep reading for more places you can utilize your certificate in child care and education.

Religious Schools

Your comfort level with this sort of school will likely depend on your personal relationship with religion. The actual religious component of the curriculum will vary from preschool to preschool. Some include a lot of instruction about the particular views of the school, while others hardly mention it. 

Public and Private Schools

Obviously the above types of preschool programs can fit into either of these categories, so this might seem somewhat redundant. However, we wanted to talk about the differences between them in their own section.

Teachers at public preschools need to meet certain requirements set at the state level, while private preschool teachers are not held to those same standards. That’s probably the main thing you need to think about when pursuing a certificate in child care and education. There are other big differences for parents between these two categories (namely cost), but that’s not all that relevant here. 

Both public and private preschools can be good environments for those interested in working in early child development and care. You just need to make sure you have the right qualifications for the job.

Teaching Assistant

This sort of position is often more attainable for those without a degree in early child development and care. As a teaching assistant, you’ll be there as support for the main preschool teacher, who likely has some sort of degree in early child development and care or a related field. You’d likely help manage the classroom, but you’d also probably be needed to work with kids who require a little extra support for whatever reason.

Child Care Worker

Most people with a certificate in child care and education will opt for this sort of a job. It’s a wider age range than what a preschool covers, so if you’d rather care for kids younger than 3 years old, a child care worker job could be perfect for you. The designation “child care worker” covers a lot of different roles in a lot of different environments, so you’ll need to sift through your options carefully. Read on for some of the most common places child care workers are needed.

Family Child Care Homes

Most of us would balk at the idea of letting a bunch of kids into our homes and being tasked with their care, but other people find it a rewarding profession. One way to get involved in early child development and care is to open your home.

Keep in mind, though, that just because the care takes place in your home doesn’t mean there’s no oversight. States keep a close eye on home child care facilities and have very specific requirements they have to meet. A state inspector will periodically check up on your home child care business to make sure everything’s going according to their guidelines.

Child Care Centers

A setting like this is going to be much bigger than an operation run out of your home. Child care centers typically have a larger staff, a larger building, and a larger amount of children to take care of. The kids are usually divided up into rooms by age, and child care workers are often assigned to one group. So, for example, the child care center might have kids from newborns to 5 years old, but you might only work in the infant room.

Head Start and Early Head Start

You’ve probably heard of these before. They’re government-funded programs that include preschool and child care for low-income families, but their services go far beyond that. Getting parents involved is an important part of this program. Early Head Start is for children under age 3, and Head Start is for children ages 3 to 5.

Vacation and Summer Child Care Programs

Since our focus is on early child development and care, we won’t spend too much time on these. They’re mostly meant for school-age children. However, some places will also have options for younger kids, too. 

This kind of seasonal work might complement other ways you use your certificate in child care and education. Or, it might be the only thing you do with early child development and care, and you work in a different field for the rest of the year. The activities and duties here are much the same as they are in other child care programs. The difference is just the time of year.

Care in the Family’s Home

You as the child care worker would go to the child’s home and care for them there. This type of child care work is not regulated, so you might not even need a certificate in child care and education to start this sort of job. However, the parents you work for will likely want to know that you’re a competent caregiver, so it won’t hurt. 

Tutor

Now we’re getting into the less well-known areas of the early child development and care industry. Most people probably associate tutors with older students having trouble with their geometry homework, but preschool-aged children can absolutely benefit from tutors, too. 

Early childhood tutors are mostly focused on getting their students ready for kindergarten. They work to teach those important skills on an individual basis, and they track their students’ progress. This could be a good option for you and your certificate in child care and education if you prefer working with individual students rather than running a whole classroom. It might also be a good supplement to other forms of work.

Personal Care Aide

Again, this career being in the early child development and care space might come as a surprise. Most personal care aides assist the elderly, but some children with special needs also require this kind of assistance. A certificate in child care and education might be enough qualification to jump into this career. 

As a personal care aide, you’d be helping take care of a child’s basic needs. When their parents are busy or too overwhelmed to handle it themselves, you’ve got them covered. The goal is often to get the family ready to join a more formal education setting. If you’d like to work one-on-one with kids that need some extra care, this could be a great career option for you.

There are so many opportunities in the early child development and care field.

The need for child care is not going away any time soon, so if you’re interested in one or more of the niches we’ve listed here, go ahead and jump in. Once you’ve earned a degree or a certificate in child care and education, you’ll have plenty of options in this space. 

If you’d rather work with kids one-on-one, then becoming a tutor, personal care aide, or even a teaching assistant can bring you opportunities for that kind of work. If you’d rather work with a large group, however, managing a classroom as a preschool teacher or a child care worker could be right up your alley. Consider the age range you’d be most comfortable working with, and also read up on the different types of preschool education methods to find one that speaks to you.

Think it through, do some more research, see what the regulations and requirements are like in your area, and then dive right in. There are a lot of great resources out there to help you get started.

Your Child Care Assistance Options

Two girls playing with the help of child care assistance

It’s no secret that child care can be prohibitively expensive. The average family that pays for child care spends around 10 percent of their income on it, and it can easily cost more than that for some people in certain areas. At the same time, you can’t just leave your kids at home while you go to work and hope for the best, nor can you stay home all day and monitor them. Parents want to know that their children are safe and well cared for when they can’t be around. That leaves them in a difficult situation: Can’t afford it, but can’t afford not to have it, either. As such, child care assistance is top of mind for many families. In a lot of cases, there’s just no other option. 

Day care assistance is there for many of those families. Here, we’ll walk you through some of the different kinds of child care assistance you might be able to access. But first, let’s get into why child care assistance is so important in the first place.

Why is child care so expensive?

This question has stumped a lot of people over the years. The child care industry really took off in the 1970s and ‘80s when women started to enter the workforce in higher numbers, and it’s just been getting more and more expensive ever since. 

Where that money is going might be kind of confusing, though, because child care workers are not paid exorbitant wages. In fact, many of them can’t even afford child care for their own children. So, why do so many people require day care assistance?

The short answer is that child care costs a lot to provide. Between staff and facilities, running a child care operation costs a lot of money. An easy way to cut costs would be to increase the ratio of children to staff, but there are state regulations in place preventing that. The exact guidelines vary, but here’s an example: In Massachusetts, a child care center can only have three infants per staff member. There are also state guidelines for how big a child care center must be, which affects costs for the building and maintenance. 

These restrictions are important in ensuring high quality care for children. Everyone wants their children to be cared for in a safe, educational environment with individual attention from qualified professionals. However, it’s a simple fact that these regulations also drive up the price. That’s why child care assistance is so important. 

Some day care assistance is only available to certain groups.

Now that we’re aware of how much need there is for child care assistance, let’s get into the different organizations that offer it. First, we’ll take you through more exclusive forms of day care assistance, where you have to be part of a certain organization to qualify.

Military Family Child Care Assistance

There are special programs for Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps members who need day care assistance. Each one is separate; the offerings differ depending on the branch you’re a part of. If you cannot access an on-base child care provider, you should look into these programs.

Demand for some of these programs outpaces the supply, so you might be placed on a waiting list. That can be a difficult period. Try to have a plan in place if there’s going to be a gap in your day care assistance. 

Once you’re off the waiting list, you’ll have access to funds to help you pay for child care going forward.

Employer Child Care Assistance

Certain employers understand how difficult it can be to find affordable, high-quality child care. They know that when children are properly cared for, their guardians can be more productive. 

These types of workplaces might offer onsite child care services, which might be one of the best forms of day care assistance. Some employers have relationships with local child care providers and can get you a discount with them. Still others will let you put part of your paycheck into a fund specifically to be used for child care. That way, the money you use for child care isn’t taxed. That might not be enough child care assistance for a lot of people, but it can definitely be an option worth looking into if your employer offers it.

Ask your human resources department about your options. If your employer has any of these kinds of programs, they should be happy to explain what types of child care assistance you could qualify for. 

School-Based Day Care Assistance

This will only apply to you if you’re currently a student. Certain colleges and universities run child care programs within their campuses, and if you’re a student (or a faculty member, for that matter), they might give you a discount if you choose to enroll your child. 

This form of child care assistance can be majorly helpful for those trying to get a degree and also raise their family. Juggling all those different responsibilities can be difficult, and if your school can step in and help out even a little, that can take a lot of weight off your shoulders. 

There are also sometimes options for high school students struggling to pay for child care. Different states have different programs for this type of funding, and it might not even be available in your state. Do some digging and contact your local child care resource and referral agency if this applies to you.

Subsidies

Every state, Missouri included, gets money from the federal government for these kinds of subsidy programs. Since these funds are doled out at the state level, the requirements to qualify are different for each state. Missouri’s requirements are fairly straightforward.

To qualify, your child needs to be under 13, unless they have special needs, in which case you may qualify even if they’re older. You’ll also have to meet certain income requirements depending on the size of your household and the program you’re looking at. You have to be employed, searching for work, attending school or a job training program, disabled, or homeless as well.

Then you need to apply for child care assistance. We’ll link you here for the specifics on how to get that form to the Family Support Division. Do note that just because you’re eligible doesn’t mean you’ll immediately see benefits.

Also keep in mind that you’ll likely still be responsible for a portion of the costs. There’s a sliding scale within this subsidy system for how much child care assistance you’ll receive. The remainder is called your copayment, and it should be proportional to your need.

That’s about it when it comes to government child care assistance here in Missouri. However, there are definitely other ways to get help from the programs themselves. Look for programs that offer…

Multi-Child Discount

Costs can balloon quickly when you’ve got to worry about securing care for multiple children. Paying for a single child’s day care expenses can be too much for some families to handle. Add in more children on top of that, and you’ve got an even bigger problem to solve. 

Thankfully, some programs offer a day care assistance discount for families with more than one child enrolled. Definitely look into that if you’ve got multiple kids to care for.

Scholarships

It’s hard to speak about this kind of day care assistance in broad strokes because each program decides on their own requirements. If scholarships are something you’re interested in, you’ll have to inquire about them with each child care facility you’re considering to find out if you’re eligible. Child care centers that have funding to offer scholarships should be more than happy to let you know if you would fit the criteria. They’ll also have information about how to apply.

Nonprofits in the area might also offer child care assistance in the form of scholarships. Do some digging to find out which ones might help you out, or you can contact your local child care resource and referral agency to see what kind of information they have on hand.

Income-Based Payment

Much like the scholarships, the information on this type of child care assistance is going to be highly individualized. There’s not really a way to cover all the options here. Some child care centers will sit down with you to figure out what you can afford and go from there in regards to charging you. 

This sort of arrangement can be a helpful form of day care assistance for many families. Instead of asking for a flat rate from everyone, these child care providers take each family’s income into consideration and use that to inform their pricing. 

If you’re interested in this kind of pricing structure, definitely ask about it when you’re looking into different child care providers.

Tax Credits

Getting day care assistance through tax credits can sound complicated, but it can also be really beneficial for many families.

There are two main kinds of tax credits you might qualify for. The first is the child and dependent care tax credit. If you pay for child care in order to work or look for work, this type of child care assistance is likely available to you. The other type of day care assistance tax credit is the earned income tax credit. This one is meant to help people and families with moderate or low incomes.

Keep in mind that you will have to file a tax return to claim these sorts of credits, even if you otherwise wouldn’t have to. If you do this and you qualify for these tax credits, then the amount of tax you owe will diminish. That might result in a refund from the government. It’s definitely not the most straightforward way to get day care assistance, but it can also be a big help to families that qualify.

Head Start and Early Head Start Programs

For families that fall at or below the federal poverty line, Head Start programs provide free child care. Day care assistance doesn’t get much more comprehensive than that. In fact, the Head Start and Early Head Start programs go a lot further than just child care assistance. They provide help for the whole family. You’ll have access to services that promote healthy behavior and parent education in addition to Head Start’s general goal of getting children from low-income families ready for school.

Early Head Start is for children up to age 3, and Head Start serves children age 3 to age 5. Children served by these programs will receive academic, social, and health education. 

To get help from the Early Head Start program nearest you, you’ll need to find them and contact them. Here is a link to the list of all Missouri locations. 

Don’t hesitate to seek child care assistance.

As we’ve seen, there are so many options to get help paying for child care. Not having a plan in place can be scary and isolating, but you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to any of the service providers we’ve mentioned and see what they can help you with. 

Some ways to get child care assistance are simply monetary — a tax credit, a discount based on your income. Others are more comprehensive, like a child care facility at your workplace or the Head Start program. Organizations you’re already affiliated with, like your school, might have resources for you, or you might have to reach out to a new organization to see what they can help you with. No matter what kind of child care assistance you’re interested in, there will likely be options available to you.

It’s hard to pay for child care. It’s one of the biggest expenses facing American families, and it’s only gotten more difficult in the past year. If you’re facing a tough time, unsure how you’re going to pay for child care, just know that you’re not the only one, and there are plenty of people and organizations who want to help.

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