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The importance of training new hires in child care

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as 78,000 Americans were forced to stay home from work each month during 2023 because of child care problems.


Like many other industries involving caregiving, the child care space has experienced a labor shortage post-pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as 78,000 Americans were forced to stay home from work each month during 2023 because of child care problems.  

As centers continue to try to meet the demand for child care services, many new hires are entering the industry with little to no experience. While this practice may improve staffing resources, employers should be aware of the risks that come along with inexperienced workers and be prepared to provide thorough training at hire and on an ongoing basis. Some potential risks with inexperienced or untrained child care staff include: 

  • Lack of supervision of children in the classroom and on playgrounds that lead to adverse incidents, such as injuries, illnesses, wandering from the premises, etc. 
  • Inability to provide proper first aid to injured children 
  • Worker injuries and illnesses 
  • Broken or unmaintained equipment and toys 
  • Unmet cleanliness standards that lead to an increased risk of disease transmission 
  • Improper disciplinary methods that lead to physical injuries 
  • Not taking the necessary precautions or following procedures for safe sleep, bottle warming, transporting children, etc. 

Hiring and onboarding strategies


Child care centers can help reduce the potential of these risks by taking mitigative steps during the hiring and onboarding processes. 

  1. Conduct thorough background and reference checks on prospective employees. 
  2. Ensure new hires are certified in pediatric first aid, CPR, and AED use. 
  3. Conduct an initial orientation session to familiarize new hires with the facility and staff policies, procedures, and expectations. 
  4. Provide comprehensive training on safety topics before workers begin working with children. Also, evaluate their comprehension of the training material and demonstration of skills to ensure the training’s effectiveness. 
  5. Have a supervisor or experienced staff member closely observe new hires during their first few months to ensure they maintain a safe and healthy environment for the children and demonstrate proficiency in providing care. 

Ongoing training initiatives


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care provides federal requirements for ongoing health and safety training to protect children. Topics include: 

  • Infant and child first aid and CPR 
  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases, including immunizations 
  • Safe sleep practices and prevention of sudden infant death syndrome 
  • Prevention of shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, and child abuse and neglect 
  • Recognition, reporting, and prevention of child abuse and neglect 
  • Medication administration, consistent with standards for parental consent 
  • Prevention of and response to emergencies caused by food and allergic reactions 
  • Emergency preparedness and response for natural disasters and other events 
  • Handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials 
  • Indoor and outdoor safety, including protecting children from hazards, bodies of water, and traffic 
  • Safety when transporting children, if applicable 
  • Child development  

Child care centers should ensure that their training curriculum, at a minimum, meets all federal, state, and local requirements. 

References


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2024). Labor force statistics from the current population survey, (unadj) employed - with a job, not at work, childcare problems. https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02096055 
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care. (n.d.). Staff qualifications and required training. https://childcare.gov/consumer-education/staff-qualifications-and-required-trainings 
 

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