Young children need constant attention, which can be tough when parents work full-time and other family members live far away. Child care workers help out with the day-to-day duties associated with raising children. Their job may include:
- Teaching life skills
- Preparing meals
- Assisting with hygiene
- Organizing activities
- Developing suitable routines
- Keeping track of developmental milestones or concerning issues
Child care workers might also help prepare young children for preschool or kindergarten by working closely with them on a variety of learning activities. Those who care for older children often supplement their studies with educational activities or help with homework.
What to Expect from a Child Care Degree Program
In some cases, child care workers need only a high school diploma to begin work. However, some employers require a certificate in child care or early childhood education. For instance, those who choose to work in a Head Start program must be enrolled in a program that will lead to a child development or early childhood education credential, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Topics typically covered in a child care degree program include:
- Safety and nutrition
- Child development
- Creative expression
- First aid and CPR
- Fundamentals of early childhood education
- Child abuse and neglect
- Child care laws
Other pertinent courses may include introduction to business, financial and legal issues associated with child care, and the care of children with disabilities. Those who want to advance to higher-level positions should consider further education, such as an associate or bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field.
Employment Outlook for Child Care Professionals
Child care workers typically work in settings that are devoted to children, such as day care centers and elementary or secondary schools. Many religious, professional, civic and related organizations offer day care services for their employees. Child care workers might also work in the home as a nanny, or care for children in a licensed home day care center. According to the BLS, employment of child care workers is expected to grow 14 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022, thanks to a growing population and an increased emphasis on the importance of early childhood education.
Some states require child care workers to be certified. Suitable certifications might include:
- The Child Development Associate (CDA)
- The Child Care Professional (CCP)
- Accreditation through the National Association for Family Child Care
These certifications require specific training or coursework, experience and periods of observation while working with children. For specific requirements, child care workers should check with their state.
"Childcare Workers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Personal-Care-and-Service/Childcare-workers.htm
"Major: Child Care Management," The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/family-consumer-sciences-human-development-family-studies-child-care-child-care-management