Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

Project: Tech Skills Needed for Child Care Career Path

Posted by durencls on May 27, 2010

OK, so, following up on our project idea – What Tech Skills ARE Needed for Low Skill Jobs? , here is what I’ve found out about the Child Care career path so far.  Bear in mind that this is *informal* research, based solely on information I obtained from Tennessee sources.  I’d LOVE to hear how this compares to other states’ perspectives.

Now, child care is only ranked 29th in the 30 fastest growing jobs 2008-2018 (see the chart), with 142,000 jobs expected to be created (that’s only 1,420 jobs/yr nationwide, or an avg of roughly 28 new jobs per state/yr ). But it is one that appears inviting to many women with low skills (even those without a HS diploma/GED). It is especially appealing to those with young children as most child care facilities provide reduced fees to employees.

 As stated in the project, we’ll compare the federal information with reality (in TN), discuss what tech skills are needed for Child Care Workers, and then we’ll look at the training and tech skills needed to progress along that ‘career path’  in TN. But first, a bit about what “child care” means in TN.

In TN, most child care facilites are licensed, evaluated and overseen by the Dept of Human Services. Exceptions include child care for less than 5 children, less than 3 days a week, or less than three hours a day (this is important later*). Licensed Child Care (for both pre and in-school children) includes both ‘home’ (5-13 children) and ‘center‘ based (13 or more children). Licensing and evaluation criteria differ between these two types. TN also has two types of evaluation – a ‘report card’ required for licensing, and a voluntary ‘Star report’ that measures program quality. (Three stars is the highest rating, and concerned parents look for more stars.) This is all important as it directly relates to training and tech skills required for employees.

So – let’s check on our basic assuptions: The BLS reports that Child Care workers (in general) require only short-term on-the-job training to start, and earn, on average, $10.90/hr.  Is this true in TN? YES

  • For a Center-based facility: there is NO minimum education requirement to start, but you must complete 18 hours of inservice training in the 1st year and 12 hours thereafter. Minimum wage to start is typical for those with NO experience or training. To attain 3 stars, however, the facility requires employees to have a HS diploma/GED, and prefers them to have some experience or training.
  • For a ‘Home’ based child care: there is NO minimum education requirement to start, but you must complete 4 hours of inservice training in the 1st year and 2 hours thereafter. You must also be able to obtain and fill all appropriate paperwork with the state for licensure. You will make whatever your center nets after expenses and taxes – likely in the $10-12/hr range. Employees of this type of center (if any) are typically part time, minimum wage with no training requirements to start.
  • If you want to provide child care in your home that does not require licensing,* there is also no minimum education to start, and you require NO training. To compete with licensed (and ‘Star’-ed) facilities, you’ll need to charge lower than the average rate for care – which is around $100-125/week per child. So at a max of $95 for each of 4 kids, that would be $350/wk gross or $9.50/hr maximum (minus expenses and likely under the table/unreported). If one or more of those children is your own, then you’re going to be earning less than minimum wage.

Ok then, what technology do starting child care workers need to be familar or skilled with now?

For center-based or home-based care: NONE.

No kidding. TN DHS actually *downgrades* early child care centers in the star program evaluation process if there are computers or televisions, etc. in the classrooms. From the Star evaluation document for early childhood: “TV/video viewing and computer use tend to be passive in comparison to active involvement with materials and people. The use of each should be confined to subject material that is age-appropriate and mentally stimulating. Time limits encourage more active learning. Participation should not be required.” (No mention of computers/television etc. is made for school-age child care.)

In addition, most in-home and smaller child care centers can manage all their business records on paper/ledgers. So other than routine use of basic plumbing and kitchen facilities, right now most child care workers, to start, do not need/have to interact with anything more complicated than a microwave, battery-powered toy, or a cordless phone. (Now ‘lesser’ child care centers may use televisions/DVD players, but few will invest in a computer to “occupy” kids if it will detract from their overall evaluation.)

How might this change in 10 years? At the very least, as business practices move more and more to digital format, those running home-based child care may have to have the ability to locate, download, and complete state forms via the web – on a desktop or hand-held computer.  While starting employees at center-based care centers may need to apply online, or complete employment tasks online, they need no actual tech skills beyond those for everyday living. As current child development research frowns on technology as too passive for use in early childcare, a change in this pedagogy would have to occur to change this requirement.

*Addendum 5/28/10 SusanWB points out that currently, the internet is a great resource for instructional ideas and materials, and those making use of that resource will likely get ahead faster in this career path (and likely HAVE to have this skill to get their Associates degree).  In the next 10 years, it is highly likely that Child Care workers will have to have the skills to access and use online resources for instruction – if not at start, then to move up at all on this career path.

Ok, so now let’s look at the Caereer Path/future for a starting Child Care worker. To get ahead in this field, work for higher quality care centers, or be able to set higher fees, you need at least a High School Diploma/GED, and to participate in more than the required amount of training per year.  Below lists a path you might take in this career (note that, overall, this is not a lucrative field of work – top end is going to be in the $50-60,000/yr range.)

  • Lead teacher – requires a 30 hour certification or degree in any topic (Associates or higher). No additional tech skills currently required.
  • Center Director – Either a) same as lead teacher PLUS 7 years experience, or b) Associates degree +4 yrs, or c) Bachelors degree +2 yrs. Computer use for business-related applications & communication recommended, but not currently required. Likely to be required in near future.
  • Owner/Multi-center Director – Same as Center Director only further experience, possibly additional business management training. Computer use for business-related applications & communication strongly recommended, and likely to be required in near future.
  • Regional or State level Child Care Evaluator/Consultant– Bachelor’s degree in Child Development plus experience. Computer use for communication and professional development tasks currently required. (Moving on from here to further state level administrative/management positions, or research in Child development, etc.).

Alternatively – if you were in a home-based care situtation, your career path would likely be either to join a center as a lead teacher, start a center, or move directly to director of a center as you cannot care for more than 13 children in your own home – thus capping possible profits.

Note that most TN DHS  training is currently all face to face, but that is likely to change, requiring online study skills/internet use for all employees – as all licensed care facility employees must have SOME professional development every year. In fact, given the child care issues many in this career might have, online/distance training could be a real boon.

So, in summary, for Child Care Workers:

  • NO High School Degree/GED or technology skills currently required to start (although slightly higher starting salaries/better working conditions/future possibilities if you possess these).
  • Pay at or around minimum wage to start.
  • Additional training required to move along the career path – certificate (common for most long-term employees), Associate’s Degree for management jobs, and Bachelor’s to reach comon top end of field.
  • Additional technology skills expected for all workers in the near future (online training tasks), and currently necessary to move into management/administration.

Resources consulted in this process:

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Project: Tech Skills Needed for Child Care Career Path”

  1. Susan WB said

    Hi Duren,

    Just from personal experience with my son’s daycare center (which is a “highly qualified” center), the staff do use a computer at work, even though there are none in the classrooms. Many of their curriculum materials are online, and I see them at the front desk printing out coloring pages and other art materials and the like. The lead teacher in my son’s classroom also prints and distributes to parents the outline for the week’s curriculum. So she definitely uses MS Office and does Internet tasks on the job. The two assistant teachers in his room probably do less on the computer, but for sure the lead teachers need those skills.

    BTW, the center that my son goes to is a Spanish-English bilingual program that employs many immigrants whose first language is Spanish. Some of these women have post-secondary educations (some even have graduate degrees) from their countries of origin, but as we all know, those degrees don’t always mean much in the U.S. There is even one woman who works there as a lead teacher who has a Ph.D. in child development. But her English isn’t perfect so she is limited in the kinds of jobs she can get. You can learn more about their fabulous program on their website at http://www.jardinmagico.com/.

    • durencls said

      For those that don’t know you, Susan is located up in Minnesota, and lives in St. Paul (a major city – unlike Knoxville which has delusions of being a major city.)

      And I totally think Child Care workers can and DO use computers as a part of their employment – it will make them better teachers and employees. BUT what I set out to do was find out what the *minimum required* was – what skills do you HAVE to have to get the “short-term on-the-job training” job listed in that top 30. And I was surprised to find that at an “average” highly rated child care center in Knoxville, there was only one computer, used rarely by the director. I was even more surprised to find that tech skills are no part of the qualifications required of employees/lead teachers/ or directors here in TN – and in fact are discouraged by state guidelines.

      I have no doubt that the larger, more well funded child care centers have computers available to the instructors as a resource tool, or that some instructors use the internet on their own to find out information and/or classroom resources. What surprised me was that from the top on down, using technology was considered entirely an “extra” and not requireed in any way to start or move up the next few steps. Only at the center administration level was it likely to be necessary (and you could work around it).

      All that said, I like your point that use of a computer as an information or materials resource is ALSO likely to be far more common, even necessary in the next 10 years – particularly for that ‘lead teacher’ position. I’ll add it to the post as an addendum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: