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Improving the Supply and Quality of Child Care Programs and Services for Infants and Toddlers

Providing high-quality, age-appropriate care for infants and toddlers can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • Providing child care providers with specialized training and professional development on developmentally appropriate services, as well as coaching and technical assistance, can improve the quality of child care directly.
  • Establishing or expanding high-quality community- and neighborhood-based care and coordinating with other services (such as early intervention specialists) can help ensure that the unique needs of infants and toddlers are being met.
  • By establishing infant and toddler components in licensing regulations, QRISs, and early learning and development guidelines, Lead Agencies can support infants and toddlers comprehensively and better ensure that parents have access to information about high-quality infant and toddler care.

Lead Agencies will be asked to identify in their CCDF Plans which of the following activities are being implemented to improve the quality of child care programs and services for infants and toddlers:

  1. Establishing or expanding high-quality community- or neighborhood-based family and child development centers. These centers can serve as resources to child care providers in order to improve the quality of early childhood services for infants and toddlers from low-income families and to improve eligible child care providers' capacity to offer high-quality age-appropriate care to infants and toddlers from low-income families.
  2. Establishing or expanding the operation of community-based, neighborhood-based, or provider networks comprised of home-based provider, or small centers focused on expanding the supply of infants and toddler care.
  3. Providing training and professional development to enhance child care providers’ ability to provide developmentally appropriate services for infants and toddlers.
  4. Providing coaching, mentoring, and/or technical assistance on this age group’s unique needs from statewide or territory-wide networks of qualified infant/toddler specialists.
  5. Coordinating with early intervention specialists who provide services for infants and toddlers with disabilities under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.).
  6. Developing infant and toddler components within the state’s QRIS, including classroom inventories and assessments.
  7. Developing infant and toddler components within the state’s child care licensing regulations.
  8. Developing infant and toddler components within the early learning and developmental guidelines.
  9. Improving the ability of parents to access transparent and easy-to-understand consumer information about high-quality infant and toddler care that includes information on infant and toddler language, social-emotional, and both early literacy and numeracy cognitive development.
  10. Carrying out other activities determined by the state to improve the quality of infant and toddler care provided within the state, and for which there is evidence that the activities will lead to improved infant and toddler health and safety, cognitive and physical development, and/or well-being.
  11. Coordinating with child care health consultants.
  12. Coordinating with mental health consultants.
  13. Establishing systems to collect real time data on available (vacant) slots in early childhood education (ECE) settings, by age of child, quality level, and location of program.
  14. Other.[1]

Resources: Improving Infant and Toddler Care

The Infant/Toddler Resource Guide, from the Child Care State Capacity Building Center, provides many resources to support the development and implementation of policies and practices for high-quality care for infants and toddlers.

State and Territory Infant/Toddler Child Care System Policies and Practices: A Tool for Strengthening Infant/Toddler Care Quality

State and Territory Approaches to Improving the Supply and Quality of Child Care Programs and Services for Infants and Toddlers (2019-2021)

Developing and Strengthening Infant/Toddler Specialist Networks, A Guide for States and Territories (Revised 2021)

The Program for Infant/Toddler Care's (PITC) Essential Elements to Frame Support for Quality, Relationship-Based Infant and Toddler Care These six papers promote evidence-based program practices that support positive outcomes for infants and toddlers in group care settings.

Supporting Babies Through QRIS: Implementation Status and Tools in US States & Jurisdictions, (2015) published by Zero to Three, is a resource that Lead Agencies can use to help ensure that the unique needs of infants and toddlers are addressed in QRISs or similar quality improvement initiatives.

 


[1] Office of Child Care. (2015). 7.3.1. In Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plan preprint. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.