Additional Resources

children and child care providersSix Essential Program Practices: Program for Infant/Toddler Care (compilation)

These papers promote evidence-based program practices that support positive outcomes for infants and toddlers in group care settings. They emphasize the importance and seriousness of supporting child care professionals as they promote optimal infant and toddler development. Information shared in this series can be used to inform policy decisions and written guidance (for example, staff training materials, parent handbooks, program philosophy statements, and job descriptions) to support high-quality responsive care practices for infants and toddlers.

Continuity of Care

Continuity of care supports consistent relationships between caregivers and children for the first 3 years of life. Having consistent care supports development of meaningful relationships that build trust and promote optimal development and learning.

Culturally Sensitive Care

Through culturally competent and sensitive care, providers partner with families to learn about care practices and rituals of children’s home cultures and use this information to inform interactions and care routines in the program setting. Culturally responsive care supports each child’s sense of belonging, identity, and language development within a group care setting.


All infants and toddlers have a right to be included in a high-quality care environment. Caregivers increase their skills and knowledge of all children, including those with special needs, when care is individualized and inclusive practices are implemented.

Individualized Care

In high-quality infant and toddler care, caregivers adapt their strategies to meet the individual needs of infants and toddlers to provide responsive relationship-based care. Individualizing care to support each child’s temperament, learning style, and interests promotes optimal development and learning.

Primary Care

In a primary care system, care of each infant or toddler is assigned to one caregiver or teacher who is principally responsible for that child during transitions, care routines, and when providing emotional and relational support. Primary care systems provide a strong foundation for responsive relationships and communication that aid in buffering stress and help infants and toddlers regulate to environmental stimuli.

Small Groups

Small groups with low adult-child ratios support responsive care and positive caregiver-child interactions. The intimacy of small groups allows for one-on-one interactions that regulate environmental stimuli and provide personalized care.

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


This tool is designed to support state child care leaders and infant/toddler stakeholders as they assess, prioritize, plan, implement, and evaluate state policies in order to strengthen the quality of child care services infants, toddlers, and their families receive. The tool also aims to assist infant/toddler child care leaders as they create strategies, policies, protocols, and systems that:

  • identify relationship-based care as essential to quality infant/toddler child care
  • engage, inform, and connect with families of infants and toddlers
  • strengthen the quality and conditions of the infant/toddler workforce to help meet the unique needs of infants and toddlers in child care settings
  • increase the supply, health and safety, sustainability, and quality of infant/toddler child care settings
  • coordinate and integrate cross-sector systems that serve infants, toddlers, and their families

State and Territory Approaches to Improving the Supply and Quality of Child Care Programs and Services for Infants and Toddlers


This resource provides a snapshot of some of the ways States’ and Territories’ Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plans reflect infant/toddler quality efforts and initiatives. The purpose of this resource is to provide a synopsis of plans to improve the supply and quality of child care programs and services for infants and toddlers to meet CCDF 3 percent set-aside requirements. The examples and approaches highlighted are extracted from the approved 2016–2018 CCDF Plans published June 16, 2016, on the Office of Child Care website. States and Territories can use this document to identify strengths and opportunities for infant/toddler child care quality improvement, to review other state and territory approaches to using their infant/toddler set-aside funds, and to learn about state and territory practices intended to improve the supply and quality of infant/toddler child care programs and services.

Resources from Our Partners

Frein B. (2016). Strategies for building quality infant-toddler supply. Paper presented at the Quality Rating and Improvement System Annual Conference—Establishing an Ecosystem for High-Quality Early Learning, New Orleans, LA. Retrieved November 21, 2016, from

National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives, Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Infant and toddler continuity of care assessment tool. Retrieved November 21, 2016, from

Stoney, L. (2015). Financing high-quality center-based infant-toddler care: Options and opportunities. (Report by Early Educator Central to the Office of Child Care and the Office of Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Retrieved November 21, 2016, from