Take advantage of educational opportunities that relate to child care

A large part of professional development involves evaluating your own strengths and weaknesses. This will help to identify gaps in training or experience. Although child care-related jobs always share the same basic principles, knowledge, and society are always changing in a way that offers new perspectives, techniques, expectations, or standards of care that can help you grow as a professional. Providing the best care available requires a willingness to explore new ideas as you continue your education on an ongoing basis.

Because of the abundance of information available online, you can enhance your knowledge regardless of your physical location. However, if you’re a child care provider in the state of Virginia, there are many local resources available to help you excel in your chosen career. Consider the following avenues to expand your professional horizons.

Colleges, universities, and continuing education

Courses related to child care and early childhood development are available at many institutions of higher learning. Whether you’re seeking a certificate, continuing education credits, a short course, or a degree ranging from associate to graduate level, there are options throughout the country. For a list of institutions in Virginia that offer child care related educational opportunities, visit State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

If cost is a concern, you may be eligible for financial assistance through grants, loans, or a work/study program. The Virginia Child Care Provider Scholarship Program (VCCPSP) is an option that was developed for those employed in child care or who plan to enter the field and are interested in child care, child development, or child care administration courses taught at colleges throughout Virginia.

Funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund, the purpose of the program is to provide an educational foundation in child care education to potential providers. Approved courses may be used toward:

  • a career studies certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • a career studies certificate in School-Age Child Care Education
  • a career studies certificate in Child Care Management
  • an advanced career studies certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • an associate degree in Early Childhood Education
  • a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education

Obtain an application by calling the scholarship program hotline at 866-636-1608 or emailing childcare.scholarship@dss.virginia.gov.

VDSS sponsored classes

As part of their mission to support the health, well-being, and education of children, the Virginia Department of Social Services Division of Child Care and Development offers child care professional development classes.

Classes are offered regionally and encompass a range of topics that support child care professionals. The Professional Development catalog is published bi-annually and includes course offerings.

VDSS also offers remote training opportunities and video-based training programs. These self-paced courses allow participants to review the classes, complete the materials, and mail them to VDSS for review and the issuance of training credit.

The Professional Development catalog and online courses can be accessed on the professional development publications and resources section of the VDSS website.

Other agencies, organizations, and associations

There are a lot of options when it comes to professional development for child care providers, including regional, statewide, and national organizations. Joining these organizations, subscribing to their publications, attending conferences, and following their websites and social media outlets are all valuable ways to stay informed and involved regarding professional development opportunities.

Get familiar with the following professional associations to learn more:

Most people who choose child care as a profession do so because they truly want the children in their care to thrive and succeed. Staying up to date on research, methodology, and opportunities for advancement sharpen your skills as a professional, makes you a more desirable prospect to potential families, and creates an environment that allows children to experience optimal growth and development. Investing in your child care education is a way of investing in the future. Continue learning and teaching to support the growth of your community.

The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.