A childcare worker teaches, supervises and cares for children who are too young to attend school and older children who need care before and after school. They provide for the children's health, safety and well-being, while providing an environment that encourages learning and social development. Childcare workers are employed in private household care (i.e., nannies or babysitters), family childcare (i.e., in-home day care) and childcare centres (i.e., Head Start, preschools and early learning centres).
Childcare workers establish daily routines and help children follow these plans. Duties include providing meals, educational activities and recreational activities. Workers supervise children during their interaction with others in the childcare environment. Depending on their ages, workers may be required to bathe, clothe and diaper the children. Childcare centres may require workers to develop lesson plans and grade papers. States may require childcare workers to keep records regarding health and safety. Nannies may also perform household cleaning tasks, such as vacuuming or laundering, in addition to their childcare duties.
Employers require childcare workers to have an excellent rapport with children, with the ability to respond appropriately to a variety of social, educational, physical and emotional situations. They must have the ability to exercise patience, mediate social interactions, maintain safe environments, supervise groups and involve children in learning activities. Childcare workers must have a team-oriented attitude to work with other education team members and administration. They must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, with the ability to communicate effectively with both parents and children.
Education and Licensing
Education and training requirements vary greatly, depending on the environment. While babysitting and in-home childcare positions may only require a safety training course, jobs in early learning centres and other educational facilities may require a associate's or bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Coursework should include childhood development, early childhood education, first aid, health and safety. Some employers may also require a national Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Many states regulate childcare through a licensing agency, including in-home family care providers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly rate for childcare workers was £5.90 in May 2008. Childcare workers in residential care facilities earned the most at an average of £6.80 per hour. Regular childcare providers, including in-home caretakers and day care workers, earned an average hourly rate of £5.40. Total income will depend upon employer size, hours worked, education, experience, responsibilities, number of children and location.
The BLS estimates that childcare worker positions will grow by 11 per cent from 2008 through 2018. Loss of workers caused by retirement, family responsibilities, continuing education and career change will mean good job prospects in childcare. Childcare providers with the appropriate education, experience and other qualifications should have no problem finding and keeping a position.