Policy Resource

Ohio's Standards of Care and Teaching for Ohio’s Infants and Toddlers

Feb 9, 2017

The Standards of Care and Teaching for Ohio’s Infants and Toddlers present research-based information on child development from birth to 3 years of age. They are presented in a format designed to be useful to parents, early childhood education providers, and policymakers.

The standards outline goals and principles that address the need for: family centered practices, professional practice and competencies, small groups, individualized care, environmental supports, and community connections.

Family Centered Practices

A high-quality infant and toddler program recognizes that families know and understand their young children better than anyone else and that their relationships with their children have a lasting impact. By respecting and supporting the primary role of the family in children’s early development, the program orients its practices around each child’s experiences at home. By creating strong relationships with family members, the teachers and program leader create a sense of common purpose. Together with families, they work to foster the well-being, development, and learning of infants and toddlers in their care.

Professional Practice and Competencies

The professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions of program leaders and teachers are essential to building program quality, which in turn supports the optimal development and learning of infants and toddlers. Qualified, competent leaders and teachers understand how to promote positive outcomes for infants and toddlers. Their professional approach to care and teaching is strengthened through a commitment to continuous improvement.

Small Groups

Small groups are essential to providing relationship-based infant and toddler care. In small groups, teachers develop a close relationship with each child, children form friendships with one another and the whole group grows together in care. A small group makes it easier for teachers to develop close relationships with each child to support learning and to supervise children and ensure their safety. Communication and collaboration between teachers and families occur naturally in a small group. Everyone becomes connected with one another in a short period of time. A small group fosters a sense of belonging and togetherness for everyone.

Individualized Care

Each infant and toddler represents a unique blend of temperament, relationship experiences and cultural experiences. In order to support each child’s development and learning most effectively, programs must individualize care. When there is opportunity for the relationship to grow between the child and teacher, the child is supported in his or her development, emotional security and self-regulation. Personal care routines are able to be conducted in a manner that invites the child to participate. Participating with a teacher in routines helps the child deepen their relationship with a teacher which strengthen relationships, encourage play and learning.

Environmental Supports

Program environments should be designed to enhance relationships and learning. Both indoor and outdoor environments for infants and toddlers must promote the children’s safety, physical and emotional health. Infant teachers need both indoor and outdoor environments that facilitate nurturing and supervision of children. The environment should be inclusive of all children and adapted to each child’s needs. Because infants and toddlers learn and develop competencies through movement, exploration and appropriate challenges, their environment should offer a variety of experiences.

Community Connections

To be recognized for the important role it plays in the community, an infant and toddler program must make efforts to become known, build partnerships and gain access to community resources. By reaching out to the surrounding community, a program can become familiar with safety and emergency personnel, health care professionals (including mental health professionals), child care resource and referral services, early intervention professionals, school professionals, public and private non-profit social service organizations and local businesses. Rather than being isolated, a program that makes community connections may become greater appreciated for its contribution to the community and discover opportunities to work together with professionals and others to promote the well-being and development of the community’s youngest citizens.

A field guide has been created to compliment the Standards of Care and Teaching for Ohio’s Infants and Toddlers in order to provide a framework to help examine issues that a provider may find challenging and to explore possible solutions through reflective questioning and practice. The field guide provides information on children’s development in stages: birth-8 months, 6-18 months, and 16-36 months.

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