Policy Resource

Virginia Infant and Toddler Specialist Network

Feb 9, 2016

With Child Development Resource’s leadership, a state level leadership council guides the work of partners and collaborators to implement a statewide, comprehensive Infant & Toddler Specialist Network in Virginia.

Key partners include the Virginia Department of Social Services; the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation; Voices for Virginia’s Children; the Infant Toddler Connection of Virginia; the Virginia Department of Health; Child Care Aware of Virginia; The Planning Council; the Virginia Head Start Association; community-based Smart Beginnings coalitions; families; institutions of higher education; community-based early care, education, and health programs; and others.

The goals of Virginia’s Infant & Toddler Specialist Network are to:

  • improve the quality of care and education that infants and toddlers receive while away from their primary caregiver;
  • increase the knowledge level and competencies of infant and toddler caregivers/teachers and directors;
  • promote community connections to increase awareness and use of available resources and services that support healthy, safe, and nurturing care for infants and toddlers; and
  • implement an effective, efficient, and accountable infant and toddler specialist system and increase its capacity to offer services.

Fifteen highly qualified infant and toddler specialists work in nine regional offices across the state. Infant and toddler specialists provide three levels of professional development opportunities designed to strengthen the capacity of early care and education programs to deliver high quality services:

  1. Quality Improvement: on-site consultation, mentoring, training, and support using quality improvement plans
  2. Quality Enhancement: training and technical assistance to groups of caregivers/teachers and directors
  3. Quality Assurance: resources, e-mail and telephone consultation, website support, audio conferencing and linkages to existing professional development opportunities.

Infant and toddler specialists work side by side with teachers and directors to help develop a quality improvement plan (QIP) that meets the individual needs of each program and builds on the strengths of each provider.

The following standards and tools are used to enhance quality of care for infants and toddlers: Virginia Milestones of Child Development; Virginia Competencies for Early Childhood Professionals; Infant and Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-R); Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-R); and Six Essential Practices of the Program for Infant and Toddler Care (PITC).

Reviewed July 2018

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