Professional Development for Home Child Care Providers
Written by Julie Bisnath, BSW, RSW
Professional Development can be defined as the process of acquiring and/or improving upon skills and knowledge, related to a particular profession, through education, training, facilitated learning, and networking. Just as with any other profession, it is important for home child care providers to actively pursue professional development activities in order to keep current in the field of early childhood development. Engaging in professional learning opportunities will not only help you offer the best possible care, but will also reflect positively on your business practices, and can have personal benefits too.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
This is one of my very favourite quotes and I think it sums up the main benefit of professional development quite nicely. When we know better, we can do better. That’s not to say that we’ve been doing things all wrong—only that with new research in the fields of brain development and early learning, best practices are continually evolving to better meet the needs of children and we need to evolve with them.
Whether you want to formally pursue a new skill set or degree, need a refresher, or are looking for more informal support, the opportunities are out there. They include coursework, conferences, coaching, workshops, webinars, podcasts, independent research, trainings, communities of practice, mentoring, networking, reflective practice, and more.
Thinking about a degree in Early Childhood Education?
- Lanark County has put together a very comprehensive guide comparing ECE programs across Ontario—full time, part time, online, it’s all there. If you are considering a degree in Early Childhood Education then this document is for you: Find it here.
- The province of Ontario is currently accepting applications for the ECE Qualifications Upgrade program. “Financially supporting individuals who are studying in the field, working at home or in a centre-based agency in Ontario, to obtain their ECE Qualifications Upgrade diploma or Leadership certification.”
ELIGIBILITY FOR UNLICENSED (INDEPENDENT HOME CHILD CARE) PROVIDERS
In order to be eligible to apply for the education grant, unlicensed home child care providers must meet the following:
- Demonstrate that they operate a registered business by including the name of their business and business number in their application form.
- Demonstrate that they have cared for children for at least 6 months through reference letters from parents and or suppliers.
- Be enrolled in or accepted to a recognized community college in Ontario for full-time or part-time studies towards an Early Childhood Education diploma.
- Disclose if he/she is receiving bursaries/grants or awards from other sources (excluding Loans).
- Be legally entitled to live and work in Canada.
- Be living and/or working in Ontario.
Visit www.ecegrants.on.ca for more details.
Wondering about new research in brain development, infant and early childhood mental health, stress and self-regulation, attachment theory, and/or other current topics? Search them up online! Many organizations offer a range of resources including paid and/or free trainings, webinars, podcasts, info sheets, articles, videos, newsletters, etc. Here are just a few websites worthy of a closer look:
- Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
- Infant Mental Health Promotion
- Neufeld Institute
Not exactly sure what you’re looking for? Sign up to receive email notification of upcoming opportunities. This way, you can see the topics, dates, and times, and decide if there’s anything of interest. The following two websites offer free webinars. Geared towards educators, the topics vary.
Are you in the Ottawa area and are looking for more hands-on or in-person training?
- Check out our Events page! CCPRN offers a variety of workshops, trainings, and networking opportunities. Recent topics have included First Aid/CPR, Making Sense of Preschoolers, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and early literacy (in the form of make and take workshops).
Saturday, March 7th CCPRN is hosting a “design your own” workshop/resource morning—perfect for expanding your home child care story time resources and networking with fellow providers.
“Making March Magical—Resource Kits and More! Welcome to our resource day – whether you stay for 5 minutes or the full 3 hours. Join Doreen to make felt stories, paint peg people, or just to shop! CCPRN’s winter kits will be on sale and our new kits will be available to purchase and pick up. Whether you want to focus on colours, numbers, art materials, or free play items– we have ideas/kits/plans for you! Pay as you go for all materials; or, if you are a member – bring your own paper, felt, fun foam etc. to die cut for a free morning of making resources. Join us in our warm and comfortable space to create and collaborate with colleagues.” Register here.
- Another great option: Outside the Box Educator Workshops—“Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Outside The Box Educator Workshops focuses on providing professional development opportunities to educators, teachers, parents, & caregivers. Our workshops are in-person, hands on and interactive!” Visit their site to learn more: outsidetheboxworkshops.ca.
Not sure where to start?
- Reflective practice and self-assessment are as good a place to start as any. Take some time to really evaluate your business practices, your skills, and your knowledge base. Are there any gaps? Is there something missing? Is there a topic or concern that you would like to investigate or learn more about? What are the needs of the children currently in your care? Do you need to refresh your knowledge on speech and language development? Do you have a child with special needs? Maybe you’d like to learn more about sensory play, risky play, screen time recommendations, or loose parts play…the list is endless. Choose a topic, set a goal, and let the learning begin! If you are stuck on where to look for resources, send me an email and I will do my best to help.
- Toronto Children’s Services has created a very thorough home child care assessment tool. It is geared towards those home child care providers associated with a licensed agency but can easily be used to help you assess and evaluate your own home child care. It references How Does Learning Happen? and covers many areas including: Daily Routine, Planned Activities and Experiences, Environment, Materials and Play Equipment, Meal Time, Field Trips and Community Experiences, and Interactions. You can find the tool here.
Engaging in on-going professional development reflects positively on your business practices as it demonstrates to potential and current families that you are committed to maintaining a certain standard of care and are open to new learning opportunities. Parents today want to know that not only are your certifications up to date (i.e. First Aid & CPR), but that you take an active interest in learning about current practices, theories, and philosophies as they relate to the field of early childhood and often to their child in particular. A detailed list of recent professional development activities attached to your CCPRN Caregiver Profile, your business advertisement, and/or your personal program statement will highlight for parents your commitment to the profession.
There are also personal benefits to professional development. Meeting other caregivers, sharing knowledge and resources, learning together, and offering support are only just a few examples. I have attended many workshops, conferences, and trainings and have often left with new skills and information to use both professionally and personally—usually related to parenting or personal relationships; but also to other relevant topics. Giving yourself the gift of time to focus on your professional development can also help with feelings of isolation, burnout, and stress. Knowing that you have some time set aside to research a difficult subject, learn a new strategy, or connect with colleagues can make all the difference.
Professional development does not need to feel like an overwhelming or impossible task—just be sure to start small, with one learning goal, or even just one question. Know that when you invest in professional development you are investing in quality care for children, in your business, and also in yourself ♥
The link above leads to a list of organizations that offer professional learning and development opportunities for individuals working in Early Learning and Care.
This site offers ECE professional development featuring a wide range of topics. Mostly paid with a few free resources.
Transforming Early Childhood Education promotes play-based learning through training, consultation, and conversation. Paid online courses and free mini-courses.
Offers a huge variety of information, resources, and training relating to maternal, newborn, and early childhood health. Some free online training. Many publications available as a free download.
Ottawa ECE Workshops Facebook Group