Many states require that child care workers obtain several hours of training every year. Even in states where this is not a requirement, some child care centres require their employees to obtain such training to improve their skills as a provider. Unfortunately, taking courses through child care training organisations or through colleges or universities can be expensive. The good news is, there are plenty of resources for free child care training courses--you just need to know where to look.
The Internet makes it easy to obtain training hours right from the comfort of your own home. While many fee-based child care training courses are available, there are also a modest number of free online workshops out there, too. Some of these are listed in the Resources section below. Many states also offer training via the Internet to child care providers who work in that state. Read more about free state-sponsored training below.
Many states (particularly the ones that require training) offer free training courses to child care providers. These courses are usually given in multiple locations throughout the state to make them easily accessible to most day care workers. To obtain a listing of free, state-sponsored training courses, contact the agency that oversees day care licensing. Commonly, this is the state's Department of Human Services or Department of Child and Family Services. See the References section for contact information.
Child Care Associations
If you or your day care centre is a member of a regional or national child care association, there may be free child care training courses available to you. While there is generally a fee for membership, many child care providers find that the benefits (including free and reduced-price training) make the membership worth the fee. Two of the most notable child care associations are the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Child Care Association.
A great resource for free child care provider training is local professionals. Experts in all sorts of areas can come to your day care centre and provide information and training on countless topics. For example, a social worker might teach the day care staff about spotting child abuse or a chef might come and share ideas for fun kids' snacks. Government employees (police officers, social workers, etc.) often provide this education as a public service. Parents of the children in your centre may also be willing to teach a course on a topic of which they have expertise.
Things to Remember
If training is required by your state, always verify that the course you plan to take will be accepted by the state licensing agency. Often, the workshop organiser will be able to tell you if the course meets such requirements, but checking with a state licensing representative will eliminate any surprises down the road.
Topics may be limited for free training courses. If you cannot find a free course on the topic of your choice, see the Resources section for links to child care training courses that are offered for about £3 each.