Program for Infant/Toddler Care: Six Essential Policies
In a primary care system, each child is assigned to one special caregiver who is principally responsible for that child’s care. When children spend a longer day in care than their primary caregiver, a second caregiver is assigned to be the primary relationship. Each child should have a special caregiver assigned to him or her at all times during the child care day. Primary care does not mean exclusive care. It means, however, that all parties know who has primary responsibility for each child.
Every major research study on infant and toddler care has shown that small group size and good ratios are key components of quality care. PITC recommends primary care ratios of 1:3 or 1:4. in groups of 6-12 children, depending on the age. The guiding principle is: The younger the child, the smaller the group. The group sizes and ratios established in the ABC Program standards will be the required minimum for programs participating in the SCPITC Demonstration Program. Small groups facilitate the provision of personalized care that infants and toddlers need, supporting peaceful exchanges, freedom and safety to move and explore, and the development of intimate relationships.
CONTINUITY OF CARE
Continuity of care is the third key to providing the deep connections that infants and toddlers need for quality child care. Programs that incorporate the concept of continuity of care keep primary caregivers and children together throughout the three years of infancy period, or for the time during that period of the child’s enrollment in care.
Following children’s unique rhythms and styles promotes well-being and a healthy sense of self. It’s important not to make a child feel bad about him or herself because of biological rhythms or needs that are different from those of other children. Responding promptly to children’s individual needs supports their growing ability to self-regulate, i.e., to function independently in personal and social contexts. The program adapts to the child, rather than vice versa and the child gets the message that he or she is important, that her/his needs will be met, and that his choices, preferences, and impulses are respected.
Children develop a sense of who they are and what is important within the context of culture. Traditionally, it has been the child’s family and cultural community that have been responsible for the transmission of values, expectations, and ways of doing things, especially during the early years of life. As more children enter childcare during the tender years of infancy, questions of their cultural identity and sense of belonging in their own families are raised. Consistency of care between home and child care, always important for the very young, becomes even more so when the infant or toddler is cared for in the context of cultural practices different from that of the child’s family. Because of the important role of culture in development, caregivers who serve families from diverse backgrounds need to:
1) Heighten their understanding of the importance of culture in the lives of infants,
2) Develop cultural competencies,
3) Acknowledge and respect cultural differences, and
4) Learn to be open and responsive to, and willing to negotiate with families about child rearing practices. In this way, families and caregivers, working together, can facilitate the optimal development of each child.
INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Inclusion means making the benefits of high quality care available to all infants through appropriate accommodation and support in order for the child to have full active program participation. Issues already embraced by the PITC – a relationship-based approach to the provision of care that is individualized, and responsive to the child’s cues and desires to learn -are equally important for children with disabilities or other special needs. Infants who have responsive, enduring relationships develop emotional security, which gives them the foundation for becoming socially competent and resilient. Infants who have individualized care are allowed to learn and grow in their own way and at their own pace.
Program Director Agreement – Eligibility Requirements to Receive Professional Growth Incentives from SCPITC
These incentives are available to programs who participate in the full SCPITC service plan.
Demonstration Program applicants who participate in the full SCPITC service plan will receive a resource grant to purchase materials for the infant/toddler classrooms. Materials purchased with the resource grant must be approved by the Infant/Toddler Specialist. These funds cannot be used for start-up costs, staff salary, nor any construction or improvements of buildings.
Certificates of Participation
Center-based caregivers, family child care providers, and administrators serving children birth to three years old, who participate in the South Carolina PITC Network, and attend a minimum of 12 hours of training will be eligible to receive a Certificate of Participation at the completion of the approved plan.
Individual Growth Incentives
Participants are eligible for only one of the incentives listed below. To be eligible for either incentive individual participants must:
- be enrolled in the ABC Program
- not miss more than two of the large group meetings (to include training and RAP sessions)
- remain at the program for at least six months following training
- serve infants and toddlers birth to 36 months
- work in the program for at least 20 hours a week
Participants who are hired after the start of the training may qualify for a partial incentive if they begin participating prior to the midpoint of the training schedule and do not miss more than one training session after they begin participating.
Stipend Eligibility ($175)
Each qualifying administrator and teacher who participates in a training plan in which the majority of training hours are held during unpaid, non-work hours (evenings and weekends) will be eligible to receive $175.
Resource Grants (applies to center- based infant/toddler programs only)
Programs that participate in an approved SC PITC Network service plan in which the majority of training hours are held during paid, work hours will be eligible for an additional resource grant. The total amount of the resource grant will be calculated at $175 per qualifying participant.
Licensing Training Hours
Each training session will provide 2 hours of DSS training in various topic areas so that all topic areas are covered. Teachers who attend trainings will receive credit for their required DSS training hours. Teachers must sign the roster at each training event in order to receive credit.