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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Early Educator Central: Pathways to Credentials and Degrees for Infant-Toddler Educators?

Early Educator Central is a project jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Offices of Child Care and Head Start. The Early Educator Central website was launched in 2015. Early Educator Central was put together by ICF International in collaboration with ZERO TO THREE and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

A major focus of Early Educator Central is the infant-toddler workforce as well as those who support them including administrators of early childhood programs; trainers and coaches; higher education professionals and coursework developers; and professional development (PD) systems leaders. To learn more about the components of Early Educator Central, take a look at the remaining FAQs.

What coursework is available through Early Educator Central?

Early Educator Central leverages coursework that has been financed through the federal government. All coursework can be viewed through the Browse Curricula page.

With the new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, how does Early Educator Central respond to widespread needs for attaining the national infant-toddler child development associate credential or equivalent?

Two options for meeting the training requirements for the national child development associate are available: the Department of Defense (DoD) Virtual Lab School provides one option for those seeking an infant-toddler credential and the Better Kid Care modules have been aligned to the requirements of the national child development associate. There is also an on-line associate degree curriculum developed by the University of Cincinnati that local higher education institutes can access and use to offer infant-toddler coursework or degree programs

The reauthorization of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) puts into place some requirements for basic training. Can Early Educator Central help? Will these apply to infant-toddler teachers only or to other teachers as well?

The courses on Early Educator Central may be helpful in meeting the new requirements under the Child Care and Development Block Grant, particularly through the Better Kid Care coursework, which addresses many of the topics included in the new CCDBG training requirements for all teachers.

What standards have been used to identify and select the coursework that is available?

All courses included on Early Educator Central meet the following standards:

  1. Courses were developed with federal partners and resources (i.e. Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
    Rationale: Ensures that content is of high quality and has gone through a federal approval process.
  2. Course content is designed for one of the four Early Educator Central audiences: Teacher/Provider, Director, Trainer/Coach, State Leaders (including Professional Development System Directors), and Higher Education Faculty and Curriculum Developers.
    Rationale: There are many important roles to support the infant-toddler workforce.
  3. Course content is in line with state or national standards.
    Rationale: A standards based approach helps ensure quality.
  4. Courses are available on a no or low cost basis.
    Rationale: Workforce costs can be a barrier.
  5. Courses include a competency based approach to assessment of learning.
    Rationale: This provides a practice-based approach meant to focus on educator skills that can benefit outcomes for children.

Is the competency based approach used to assess each course available?

Yes, it is. Early Educator Central has developed a tool, which includes a self-assessment that course developers may use.

There is also an online questionnaire for course developers who wish to have their courses considered for inclusion on the site. The questionnaire follows the competency-based self assessment and walks applicants through the criteria for course inclusion on the site

How will Early Educator Central support educators to improve and demonstrate their competencies?

An open-source observation tool, the Head Start Coaching Companion, is part of Early Educator Central. This tool allows teachers to video their own practices, and then share the videos with their administrators, coaches, trainers, and faculty as appropriate. The observation tool is designed to help early educators collect information about their own practices so that they can continue to build effective, developmentally appropriate practice.

Many early childhood teachers find themselves taking classes at many different colleges and universities where their courses do not articulate for credit. Is any assistance available through Early Educator Central?

Templates for articulation agreements, along with samples of existing articulation agreements and other helpful information, is available to demonstrate practical, workable approaches to aid in the articulation of credit.

States face challenges in planning to support the early childhood workforce gain credentials and degrees. How can Early Educator Central help?

A professional development cost analysis brief can aid professional development system planners understand costs associated with helping infant-toddler teachers as well as other early childhood professionals gain degrees and credentials. The brief outlines what annual costs need to be considered at three levels: for an individual teacher, for an early childhood employer, and for state level infrastructure such as early childhood teacher scholarships, certification or licensure, training registries and other system supports.

Besides the coursework, what else is part of Early Educator Central?

Early Educator provides not just courses but also teaching supports that aid infant-toddler educators, early childhood program administrators, and course planners and developers in the higher education and professional development system along with system supports for professional development and higher education planners. The details are found on the landing pages for each audience: Teachers, Administrators, Trainer/Coaches, and Professional Development (PD) System Leaders. Also the Teaching Supports and System Supports pages provide valuable information.