Individuals who work in the early childhood field, may work
- directly with children infancy to age 6 in groups or individually,
- work with families, or
- work with other professionals
They work in a range of settings including family child care, licensed early childhood centers, children’s homes, community centers, and other settings. Early Childhood professionals also work for a variety of employers such as:
- Head Start
- Parent Child Center or Family Center
- Private for-profit or not-for-profit early childhood program
- Public school system or private school
- Community Agency or organization
- Self- employed
Early childhood professionals use standards and competencies to define what they should know and do. These are based on levels, which are detailed in the documents under Early Childhood Resources (See sidebar)
- Level I, II, III: Early Childhood Core Competencies
- Level IV, V: Vermont Agency of Education professional standards
Early Childhood professionals can define their career pathway by the Early Childhood Career Ladder, which is based on the competencies, standards and levels above. The Ladder describes the various options to achieve each level. Credentials are embedded in the career ladder and branch off from it. There are classes and courses available statewide, which meet the education requirements for each level along the Career Ladder.
The Early Childhood Career Ladder is aligned with program quality standards such as STARS, program accreditation and child care licensing requirements. There is also financial support, incentives and recognition for achievement of the early childhood levels and related credentials.
Early childhood professionals who work primarily with other professionals – as program directors, instructors, advisors, consultants or managers need to be knowledgeable about these documents and resources, as well.
Altogether, this professional development system strives to develop and enhance the quality of professionals working with young children and families.