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. 


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.


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.


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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