Supporting Technical Assistance Providers
Technical assistance (TA) and professional development (PD) providers play an essential role in a national effort to improve program quality for infants and toddlers. The 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) designated increased funds to support training and professional development for the child care workforce and to improve the supply and quality of infant and toddler programs. The law encourages activities such as coaching and TA from statewide networks of qualified infant and toddler specialists (Child Care and Development Fund Program, 2016).
To begin with, let’s look at how the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Child Care Aware of America (formerly NACCRRA) define PD and TA. This will give us a shared understanding as we explore the topic of supporting TA providers.
Professional development in the early childhood field is “a continuum of learning and support activities designed to prepare individuals for work with and on behalf of young children and their families, as well as ongoing experiences to enhance this work. These opportunities lead to improvements in the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions of early education professionals. Professional development encompasses education, training, and technical assistance” (NAEYC & NACCRRA, 2011, p. 5).
Technical assistance is “the provision of targeted and customized supports by a professional(s) with subject matter and adult learning knowledge and skills to develop or strengthen processes, knowledge application, or implementation of services by recipients” (NAEYC & NACCRRA, 2011, p. 5).
Technical assistance providers work in a variety of settings (including but not limited to Early Head Start programs, quality rating and improvement systems, family child care homes, child care centers, and so on). TA providers are also employed by many different types of agencies (for example, child care resource and referral agencies, state governments, and institutions of higher education), and some are self-employed or independent contractors. Providers of technical assistance have various job titles, such as specialist, coach, mentor, technical assistant, and consultant.
Despite these contextual differences, TA providers who support quality care in infant and toddler programs can use common strategies and activities.
Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Program, 81 Fed. Reg. 67,438. (September 30, 2016) (codified at 45 C.F.R. pt. 98). Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-09-30/pdf/2016-22986.pdf
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) & National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). (2011). Early childhood professional development: Training and technical assistance glossary. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/our-work/public-policy-advocacy/glossarytraining_ta.pdf