Pre-service & Professional Development Systems

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Pre-service training, also known as certification in some states, refers to a program or series of trainings required for adults to become certified ECE providers. Professional development refers to ongoing professional training for current ECE providers. Many states specify a set of core knowledge and competencies that define what ECE providers should understand and be able to do in order to be effective in their role. For any given ECE provider, how often and how many ‘clock hours’ and continuing education credits (CEUs) must be earned, as well as required content areas for training, depends on her participation in many components of her state’s ECE system, such as licensing, CACFP, QRIS, and subsidy.

Sub-options:

  1. Ensure that on-line, on-demand obesity prevention training modules are available and approved for professional development credit.
  2. Require that state’s ECE certification/degree programs curriculum include core obesity prevention standards and implementation guidance.
  3. Ensure that optional training in obesity prevention within certification and continuing education programs are available for those providers interested in going beyond minimum requiremements (e.g. incorporated as part of a state QRIS or special designation for providers and facilities).
  4. Ensure that a sufficient number of state-approved trainers stay up-to-date on national obesity prevention standards and the best practices for achieving them and are providing frequent opportunities for ECE providers to attend trainings dedicated to this topic that count for professional development credit.

State Example: Nevada

In May 2011, the Nevada (NV) State Legislature passed a law requiring at least 2 of the 15 hours of annual training required for ECE providers to be in the area of wellness, health, and safety of children. Specific areas of training may include nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention. The bill was sponsored by the NV’s Fitness and Wellness Council, a state-mandated committee made up of high-level officials and the Chronic Disease Prevention and Wellness Promotion committee. The bill champions were a state senator and the state’s chief health officer. Coalition members, leaders, and partners from Southern NV Health District and Washoe Health District worked with other stakeholders to provide education, research, and advocacy to support the bill. The bill took effect on July 1, 2011, and affects the work of more than 573 ECE providers in Nevada.

How It Came About

The impetus for drafting the bill came in March 2010 when the NV State Health Division (NSHD) staff reported to the Fitness and Wellness Council (FAWC) information contained in an analysis of state licensing regulations funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which ranked NV number two among states for having high quality regulations to help prevent obesity in the ECE setting.2 One of the items hindering the state from being ranked first was ECE provider training on nutrition and physical activity. Senator Valerie Wiener, a member of FAWC, felt this was attainable through new legislation. As a result, she developed what became SB27. Throughout the legislative process, the NSHD provided background information and administrative support. Through the dedication of legislative champions, Senator Wiener and Dr. Tracey Green, the legislature passed unanimously. Funding for education modules was leveraged from CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) funds.  Thus, there was no fiscal impact on the state or ECE centers.

Implementation

Through the use of CPPW funds, NSHD supported the development of a training curriculum and provided opportunities for trainings at conferences and summits. Six training modules are being developed—three on nutrition, and three on physical activity—for ECE providers. The NSHD’s Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Section has contracted with the University of NV Cooperative Extension and is working in partnership to create the modules, which will be available online to all ECE providers free of charge. The Health Division’s Wellness program plans to continue its support of training modules in the future by leveraging federal monies via grants and other mechanisms.

Lessons Learned

  • A number of legislators’ supporters agreed on the language of the bill enabling it to pass quickly and with little resistance.
  • The bill did not have a financial impact on ECE providers, because all training is online and free of charge, and it does not require any additional hours of training. These factors helped garner provider support for the bill.

 

References

  1. Whitebook M, Gomby D, Bellm D, Sakai L, Kipnis F. Preparing Teachers of Young Children: The Current State of Knowledge, and a Blueprint for the Future. Executive Summary. Policy Report. Berkeley, CA: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California; 2009. Available from http://www.iir.berkeley.edu/cscce/index.html.
  2. Duke University School of Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine. Preventing Obesity in the Childcare Setting: Evaluating State Regulations. Available from http://cfm.mc.duke.edu/wysiwyg/downloads/State_Reports_FInal.pdf.