In the spring and summer of 2019, New York more than doubled the number of full- and part-time Infant Toddler Specialists working to increase the quality of child care across the state.
This boost was a result of Child Care and Development Block Grant funding issued from the New York Office of Children and Family Services. Services of Infant Toddler Specialists include offering training and technical assistance to child care programs; providing information to families and providers; and aiding child care providers in expanding comprehensive service delivery for infants, toddlers, and their families.
Within each of New York’s 7 regions, one Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) organization oversees the Infant Toddler Specialist contract. Each agency works with the other CCR&Rs within their region to distribute the funding for Infant Toddler Specialists to serve the child care providers within the counties they serve. With this funding system in place, the Early Care and Learning Council (ECLC) and the CCR&R network are able to assist the OCFS in meeting the activities outlined in the state’s Child Care and Development Fund plan.
For many years, New York had 24 full- and part-time Infant Toddler Specialists. With 35 CCR&R’s and 62 counties, the ability to reach and impact child care providers across the state had significant room for growth. This expansion brings the total number of specialists to 50 as of August 2019 with plans for a few more positions to be filled in the fall.
Plans are in place for the Infant Toddler Specialists to complete a series of nationally recognized early childhood trainings to enhance the strengths that each individual brings to the position, giving them greater leverage to do work with child care providers that will positively affect the lives of the infants and toddlers in child care programs. This professional development will address quality environments for infants and toddlers, early childhood development, and teacher and administrative practices in early childhood programs. The ECLC will also work with New York Association for the Education of Young Children to deliver two additional professional development curricula to the Specialists: Coaching Institute and Communities of Practice.
Programs often start with tangible changes to the environment and the structure of the program and then advance toward changing practices that promote relationship-based care between children, caregivers, and families. Each technical assistance visit, training, quality improvement plan, or coaching session that the Infant Toddler Specialists deliver emphasizes the high-quality early care that’s essential to a child’s long-term social, emotional, and intellectual development.