Childcare workers have responsibility for the growth and development of preschool children. In some cases, childcare workers are involved in before- and after-school care as well as summer care. In these situations, the typical age range of infant to 5 years of age can expand up to 12 years of age. Childcare workers are responsible for all aspects of their classroom including implementing the curriculum, supporting children during work and play time, taking care of the classroom environment, supporting appropriate behaviour, and communicating with families.
Childcare workers are generally required by the state childcare licensing entity to have a high school diploma or a GED. Licensing regulations stipulate they are to have a physical examination annually and be up to date with their tuberculosis inoculations. They must pass a criminal background check. These requirements pertain to licensed childcare facilities. Childcare workers who are employed by faith-based agencies or non-licensed facilities are not required to meet licensing standards.
The responsibilities of childcare workers vary depending on the position held. They may be in charge of a classroom and responsible for all aspects of that room. They may be used as an assistant to a teacher. Another common role is called "floater." In this role, the childcare worker fills in around the centre when a teacher needs help, is gone, or there is a need to have another person in the room to meet teacher-to-pupil ratio standards.
Childcare workers, no matter what their role, are expected to carry out responsibilities related to: (1) planning and implementing a curriculum; (2) being actively involved with the children; (3) taking the lead or supporting the teacher in individual and group activities; (4) planning unique activities for special events; (5) keeping the classroom clean, safe and orderly; (6) greeting children and families when they arrive; and (7) knowing what to do in emergency situations.
Childcare workers are responsible for maintaining safe, healthy, peaceful classrooms. They are expected to understand how to promote positive behaviour and how to deal with inappropriate behaviour. Redirecting children who are misbehaving is the first method of management. Screaming, yelling and belittling children who are misbehaving is inappropriate behaviour for a childcare worker. Teaching children about what behaviour is acceptable and how to be successful in the classroom is the first line of defence--prevention.
Childcare workers are physically active for sometimes more than 8 hours a day. They may need to pick children up from falls, help them climb, or remove them from the classroom when their behaviour is interrupting the class. It is important for childcare workers to get down on the floor to play with children. It is also important for them to bend down or sit down so they can talk to children facing them at eye-to eye-level.
Childcare workers are responsible for several kinds of organizational and management activities, such as making sure the classroom and materials are prepared for the next day prior to going home for the day, organising the classroom and the centres in the room so children feel comfortable in the room, ensuring all centres in the classroom are stocked with appropriate toys and materials, and organising time to wash toys on a daily basis.