Keeping 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!