Topic Overview: Professional Development and Technical Assistance
When reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act in 2014, Congress included several provisions that promote technical assistance (TA) and training to support best infant and toddler practices. This TA and training is the focus of this chapter.
Activities to Improve the Quality of Child Care
The CCDBG Act increases the portion of funds that States and Territories must reserve to improve quality among all providers. The following is a list of allowable quality improvement activities according to the new provisions stipulated in the Child Care and Development Fund Final Rule:
- Supporting training and professional development of the child care workforce
- Improving the development or implementation of state or territory early learning and development guidelines
- Improving the supply and quality of infant and toddler care programs. (Child Care Development Fund Program, 2016)
Beginning in Federal Fiscal Year 2017, 3 percent of CCDBG funds (in addition to the quality set-aside funds) must be reserved for quality improvement activities related to care for all infants and toddlers. Activities to improve the supply and quality of infant and toddler care may include the following:
- Training and professional development for infant and toddler caregivers
- Coaching and TA from statewide networks of qualified infant and toddler specialists
- Coordination with early intervention specialists
- Developing infant and toddler components within the early learning and development guidelines, quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS), and licensing, as applicable. (Child Care Development Fund Program, 2016)
Training and Professional Development for the Child Care Workforce
CCDF Lead Agencies are mandated to have training and professional development requirements applicable to providers receiving CCDF funds. These training and professional development requirements must improve the knowledge and skills of the workforce, helping them increase the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of all children (45 C.F.R. § 98.44, 2016). This training and professional development must be conducted on an “ongoing basis” and “provide for a progression of professional development” (sometimes referred to as “career ladder” or “lattice”); this may include postsecondary education requirements (45 C.F.R. § 98.44, 2016). Training and professional development should be based on current research and best practices to help providers meet the developmental needs of children (infants and toddlers), including social-emotional behavior intervention models (45 C.F.R. § 98.44, 2016).
Selected Strategies for Developing and Enhancing TA, Training, and Professional Development Supports for Infant and Toddler Practices
The CCDF program provides States and Territories with the flexibility to develop policies that support TA, training, and professional development for infant and toddler best practices. Strategies can include those described in the following sections.
Primary Caregiving/Continuity of Care/Small Group Size
The following strategies are from the Infant and Toddler Continuity of Care Assessment Tool (National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives, 2013).
- Primary caregiving and continuity of care skills can be included in core knowledge and competencies (CKCs) and professional development for the infant and toddler workforce
- Continuity of care may be emphasized in staff professional development as a strategy to increase family engagement, through sustained relationships, while at the same time supporting healthy emotional development for each child
- "Home visiting training should include information on the importance of continuity of care for families transitioning children to out-of-home care” (p.4)
- Training for the infant and toddler workforce should include strategies for managing multi-age groups, particularly in family child care settings
- “Continuity of care should be included in professional development as a strategy to enhance the authentic assessment of infants and toddlers” (p.5). When providers and infants are together over time, the caregiver has ample opportunity to observe and record each infant’s behavior for required assessments, and to identify characteristics and interests of each infant or toddler
Professional Development/Career Ladder Activities
- “Higher education programs, mentoring and coaching, and in-service professional development are all important mechanisms for developing and sustaining the knowledge and competencies of professionals” (Institute of Medicine & National Research Council, 2015. p. 505)
- The infant and toddler workforce can be targeted for increased compensation or bonuses to decrease turnover and support continuity of care (National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives, 2013)
QRIS-Related Strategies for Programs Serving Infant and Toddlers
The following strategies are from the Infant and Toddler Continuity of Care Assessment Tool (National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives, 2013). If a State or Territory has a type of quality improvement system other than a QRIS, these strategies can still be applicable.
- Embed infant and toddler coursework (and/or credentials) in QRIS standards
- Require programs to provide documentation of primary caregiving assignments. Primary care is recognized as a characteristic of high-quality infant/toddler care
- If using an observational rating tool to determine quality rating levels, require a score that indicates quality in infant and toddler care (e.g., a score of five or higher on the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale–Revised’s interaction subscale, or a score of six or higher on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System’s positive climate domain)
- Require programs to have policies and procedures that promote healthy attachment between infants and caregivers
- Require programs to provide documentation of their plans to ensure continuity of care
Institute of Medicine, & National Research Council. (2015). Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.. Retrieved December 20, 2016, from
Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Program, 81 Fed. Reg. 67438 (September 30, 2016) (codified at 45 C.F.R. Part 98). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from
National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives, Office of Child Care, Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2013). Infant and toddler continuity of care assessment tool. Retrieved December 19, 2016, from