Child Care Practitioner: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Child care practitioners provide supervision and care of young children. They are expected to engage children in play activities, plan simple lessons and organize outings. Qualified individuals may work in state facilities, private day care centers or their own residences.
Child care practitioners provide a safe and comfortable temporary environment for young children, engaging them in play, taking part in age-appropriate activities, and teaching them basic social skills, personal hygiene and discipline. Often they will provide materials that offer educational opportunities. In more formal settings they create a structured environment that includes solitary play, group games and other social activities, artistic expression and quiet time.
In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that most child care workers throughout the country made an income of $16,430 to $29,770 per year. The top-paying states for these workers that year were the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, California and Vermont. The BLS projects that opportunities for child care workers will increase 14% from 2012 to 2022.
Daily responsibilities of the child care practitioner vary according to the type of facility the worker chooses. Practitioners who work in the client's home, often called nannies, take care of all the personal care of the child or children. They are expected to feed, clothe and bathe the children. They will organize play dates, conduct outings and accompany children to lessons.
Caregivers who operate a service in their own homes are expected to maintain a safe, clean and stimulating environment. Additionally, they serve nutritious snacks and assist in teaching personal hygiene. Since they may take children of different ages, they must be prepared to use strategies to create harmony within the group. Effective home day care providers must cater to the needs of all children in their care, offering age-appropriate materials and activities for each of them.
Practitioners in child care centers supervise groups of children, usually within a limited age range. These caregivers create lesson plans and organize activities throughout the day. They will supervise indoor and outdoor play, engage with children one-on-one and teach a variety of basic skills. They also organize outings such as field trips to local establishments or cultural centers.
Educational requirements range from a high school diploma to an advanced degree. Some day care centers will hire applicants with only experience, but most prefer that the applicant has a degree in early childhood education, child development or psychology. Nearly all child care positions require CPR training. Most day care centers require background checks with fingerprinting.
Some states require that candidates obtain a license to practice work with children. The requirements for licensure vary by state but include a combination of background checks, CPR and safety training. State-facility employees are frequently required to obtain the Child Development Associate credential, which requires over 100 hours of training and 400 hours of experience.
Child care workers who offer care in their own homes are required to be licensed and must meet state standards of operation. In-home providers are required to attend regular training classes and provide a suitable environment that includes precautionary safety measures such as covered electrical outlets and gated stairways. The number of children the provider may care for is limited by the number of child care workers in the home as well as the square footage of the space.
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