Archived Information

Tried and True: September 1997--The information in this publication was current as of September 1997, and has not been updated since. Some services described in the publication may no longer be available.
[Early Childhood Education]

Program for Infant and Toddler Caregivers

A Complete Multimedia Training System for Caregivers of Young Children

Developed and tested by WestEd and the California Department of Education

What is the idea behind the Program for Infant and Toddler Caregivers?

Given today's economic environment, many families with infants must depend on outside child care. Research shows that when that care is of high quality infants and toddlers can thrive, benefiting significantly in both cognitive and social development. Yet good child care is shockingly hard to find. In fact, a recent national study indicated that91 percent of available child care programs provide inadequate care and that 40 percent actually hinder infants' normal development because care is of such low quality.

Keenly aware of the importance of early experience on children's later functioning, the Far West Laboratory, now WestEd, in collaboration with the California Department of Education, assembled a team of experts in child development, child care, adult education, and print and video production to work with national and state advisors to create a comprehensive training system for caregiver trainers, center-based caregivers, and family child care providers. The materials are based on the best knowledge from child development theory, research, and practice, and focus on meeting infants' social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs while in child care settings.

This training system helps caregivers and program managers

The program is divided into four modules:

Module I: Social-Emotional Growth and Socialization
Module II: Group Care
Module III: Learning and Development
Module IV: Culture, Family, and Providers

The program's centerpiece is a series of 12 broadcast-quality training videos (produced in English, Spanish, and Chinese-Cantonese). Augmenting the videos are various print materials, including a series of guides on infant and toddler caregiving and trainer's manuals in an easy-to-follow format for presenting the program materials to caregivers.

WestEd's Center for Child and Family Studies and the California Department of Education's Child Development Division currently conduct Module Training Institutes lasting 4 days for each module. The institutes are offered to educators, program managers, and other professionals responsible for training infant and toddler caregivers. These intensive sessions help trainers deepen their own understanding of each module's content and acquire skills in the integrated presentation of the program's concepts.

What does research say about how this idea can help teaching and learning?

Education and specialized training of caregivers have been identified as critically important contributors to high-quality care. Research has demonstrated that babies in poor quality settings may become ill more often due to the absence of basic sanitation for diapering and feeding; play in unsafe situations; lack warm, responsive relationships with caregivers; and miss out on learning because they do not have materials that support physical and intellectual development.

In an independent evaluation of the Program for Infant and Toddler Caregivers, 89 percent of family child care providers who received the training were found to provide developmentally appropriate care. Program-trained caregivers were also observed to be highly responsive with infants and toddlers. In contrast, a national study using the same measures of quality indicated that only 12 percent of family child care providers offered good quality care.

How was this program tested?

From its inception 10 years ago, the program has relied heavily on formative evaluation. All videos and related materials--in rough cut and draft form, respectively--have been reviewed by the program's advisory panel of state and national early childhood experts, as well as by participants in the Module Training Institutes.

Two activities have been completed thus far in the formal evaluation of the program--an evaluation of family child care settings and a survey of California trainers:

  1. Dr. Carollee Howes of UCLA evaluated family care settings after the caregivers completed program training. Adult interactions with infants were highly supportive of the children's social, emotional, and intellectual development. Almost all of the settings were found to be of good quality.

  2. A survey of trainers who had participated in the Module Training Institutes indicated:

What communities and states are using this program?

Early childhood educators and trainers from throughout the United States and foreign countries have participated in the Module Training Institutes. The four-module series is offered annually in California. In addition, training institutes have taken place in Illinois, Minnesota, and North Dakota. National training institutes have been conducted for the Migrant Head Start program and the new Early Head Start program. Every site in the Early Head Start program has had at least one staff member participate in the module training.

Thousands of individuals and organizations throughout the United States and the world are using the program to educate caregivers.

What's involved in using this program in my school and community?

Participants in the Module Training Institutes receive a certificate of completion from WestEd and the California Department of Education, which recognizes them as trainers for the specific module(s) in which they trained. These institutes are open to both California residents and participants from outside the state. WestEd also arranges special training institutes to meet the needs of specific groups or infant care systems. These institutes are available nationally or internationally by special arrangement. The program's video and print materials can be obtained from the California Department of Education's Publication Unit without participating in module training. An entire module or individual items can be purchased.

Costs associated with implementing this program vary, depending on the components of the program being used.


Sheila Signer
Center for Child and Family Studies
180 Harbor Drive, Suite 112
Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone: (415) 331-5277
Fax: (415) 331-0301
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