The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 expanded the purposes of the block grant to include the following:

  • To assist states in improving the overall quality of child care services and programs by implementing the health, safety, licensing, training, and oversight standards established in [the Act] and in state law including state regulations [1]
  • To increase the number and percentage of low-income children in high-quality child care settings
  • To improve child care and development of participating children [2]

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) final rule expanded on this by highlighting the importance of supporting professional development in an additional purpose:

  • Provide a progression of training and professional development opportunities for caregivers, teachers, and directors to increase their effectiveness in supporting children's development and learning and strengthen and retain (including through financial incentives and compensation improvements) the child care workforce. [3]

Responsive, well-qualified adult caregivers are one of the most important factors in children’s development and learning in child care settings. Teacher-child interactions and relationships, strategies to engage children and their families, and use of curriculum and assessment to inform practices with children are key components of high-quality child care. These require a competent, skilled, and stable workforce.

Research has shown that specialized training and education, positive and well-organized work environments and adequate compensation promote teacher stability and effectiveness with children in child care. In addition, professional development strategies that emphasize onsite mentoring and coaching of teachers have emerged as promising to change practices with children and families. [4]

Professional Development and Workforce information
Professional development, licensing, and health and safety are connected components of strong CCDF administration.

Early Childhood Career ladder

The CCDBG Act and CCDF final rule require states to develop a system of professional development with progression designed to improve the knowledge and skills of the child care workforce, as well as help providers to promote the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of children. An example of how a state might address this is to establish a career ladder that allows individuals to move from introductory to advanced-level training, including obtaining a credential or postsecondary degree.

Professional development should be designed in a manner that builds and accumulates to result in certification or advanced degrees recognized by the state as demonstrating mastery in the child care profession. [5]

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) strongly encourages states to link CCDF health and safety trainings to this broader professional development framework as the foundation for building a knowledgeable early childhood education workforce.



[1] CCDF regulations define state as follows: “any of the states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, and includes tribes unless otherwise specified” [Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.2 (2016)]. For ease of reading, the term state is used inclusively throughout this resource unless otherwise specified.

[2] CCDBG Act of 2014 658A(b).

[3] Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.1(b)(8) (2016).

[4] Office of Child Care. (2015). Section 6: Recruit and retain a qualified and effective child care workforce. In Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plan preprint. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

[5] lbid.