Essential Elements to Frame Support for Quality, Relationship-Based Infant and Toddler Care

Child care provider looking at a baby.The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 added a new permanent requirement: states and territories must spend at least 3 percent of Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) funds on improving the supply and quality of care for infants and toddlers. The law also increased the amount of money states and territories must spend to improve the overall quality of child care. This amount will increase in phases, ending with states and territories spending at least 9 percent of funds on these activities by 2020. These quality funds must be spent on at least one of 10 activities, such as supporting professional development for child care providers and implementing early learning and development guidelines (Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. § 98.50b [2016]).

This chapter is intended to support professional development and technical assistance providers who are working with states and territories to ensure quality in family child care and center-based programs that serve infants and toddlers. The information in this chapter can help readers

  • better understand the essential elements of high-quality relationship-based infant and toddler care and
  • help communicate their importance. 

Research tells us that early relationships are key to healthy brain development. These relationships lay the foundation for all future learning and are at the core of quality care for infants and toddlers in group care settings (Sosinsky et al., 2016, p. 3). Anyone involved in providing infant and toddlers in group care is faced with two primary questions: “How can we develop and strengthen relationships within programs?” and, “How can we design and support child care programs to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for infants and toddlers?”

The evidence-based program practices developed by the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) offer a cohesive approach to high-quality care and education for children under age 3 (PITC, n.d.). The six essential program practices are primary care, continuity of care, inclusion, cultural sensitivity, small groups, and individualized care. Each article in this chapter highlights one of these practices. Together they provide a framework for promoting strong relationships that support positive early learning and development outcomes for infants and toddlers.

Each article includes

  • the rationale behind the essential program practice, 
  • reasons the program practice is important for infants and toddlers, 
  • examples of how the program practice promotes positive child outcomes, and
  • considerations for planning to implement the program practice in diverse child care settings.

Child Care and Development Block Grant Act Activities to Improve the Quality of Child Care

  • Phases in increase in minimum quality set-aside dollars from 4 to 9 percent over a 5-year period. In addition, requires states and territories to spend minimum of 3 percent on improving the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
  • Requires states and territories to spend quality funds on at least one of 10 specified quality activities, which include developing tiered quality rating systems and supporting statewide resource and referral services.
  • States that states and territories must establish professional development and training requirements with ongoing annual training and progression to improve knowledge and skills of CCDF funded child care providers.
  • Requires states and territories to implement early learning and development guidelines that describe what children should know and be able to do from birth to kindergarten entry.
  • Includes provisions on social-emotional health of children, including providing consumer and provider education about policies to prevent expulsions and suspensions of children from early care and education programs and developmental screenings for children at risk of cognitive or developmental delays.

 

(Office of Child Care, 2014)

Resources

Including Relationship Based Practices in Infant-Toddler Care: Implications for Practice and Policy (2016), by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This report describes relationship-based care practices, with an emphasis on primary care and continuity of care. It focuses on research that supports the need for quality relationships in infant and toddler care, considerations for adopting or enhancing relationship-based practices, and implications of state standards for incorporating these practices into programs.

The Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC): Six Essential Practices for Quality Infant/Toddler Care (2018). 

This presentation explores six essential practices for high-quality infant/toddler care.  Learn the basics of continuity of care, primary care, small groups. individualized care, inclusion, and cultural responsiveness.  Resources for additional information are also shared.

Supporting the Socio-Emotional Health of Infants, Toddlers, and Adults During Natural DIsasters and Emergencies (2018). 

This presentation explores six essential practices for high-quality infant/toddler care.  Learn the basics of continuity of care, primary care, small groups. individualized care, inclusion, and cultural responsiveness.  Resources for additional information are also shared.

References

Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. pt. 98 (2016).

Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014: Plain language summary of statutory changes. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/resource/ccdbg-of-2014-plain-language-summary-of-statutory-changes

Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC). (n.d.). Mission statement and PITC philosophy. Retrieved from https://www.pitc.org/pub/pitc_docs/about.html

Sosinsky, L., Ruprecht, K., Horm, D., Kriener-Althen, K., Vogel, C., & Halle, T. (2016). Including relationship-based care practices in infant-toddler care: Implications for practice and policy. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.