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Child care workers, also known day care workers, are people who educate and care for children who have not yet entered kindergarten. Child care is a demanding job and requires a specific level of training before you can be employed in this capacity. The level of training varies from state to state.
Education and Training
The level of training for child care providers varies with the state and the particular job. The requirements range from less than a high school diploma to a national Child Development Associate credential to an associate or bachelor's degree in child development or early childhood education. State requirements are more stringent for workers at day care centers than for family child care providers. In addition, Head Start requires at a minimum that its workers be currently studying toward a credential or degree in early childhood education or a related field. Some employers prefer workers with a high school diploma or post-secondary training even if it's not required.
Typical Licensing Requirements
Some states require that child care providers undergo a licensing process. This involves a background check, immunizations and completion of a training program. In some states, child care workers must complete the requirements for a national credential. Some states also require licensing of child care workers in private homes.
The certification required by most states is the Child Development Associate credential from the Council for Professional Recognition. The prerequisites include classes and experience plus a period of observation of your work. Another credential valid in some states is the Child Care Professional from the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. The prerequisites for the CCP include a high school diploma, work experience, relevant coursework and success on an examination.
Day care workers need patience and physical stamina to work with active children all day long. They must be able to get along with people of all ages and to make correct decisions in emergencies. They need strong communication skills to interact with parents and other staff about the children. A knack for explaining things simply so that their young charges can understand is especially essential.