Initial and ongoing training improves your program as you increase your skills and apply new information to your work with young children.

Initial training

Initial training often happens before starting work as a child care provider. At a minimum, initial training normally occurs before you provide direct care to children without supervision. Initial training should cover health and safety training, and child development information at a minimum. In addition to initial training you will want to include an orientation to your program policies and procedures. Check with your state licensing requirements to find out how much training is required. Child Care Aware® of America's State Licensing Information Map provides you with direct links to the office in your state that is responsible for child care licensing.

In addition to your orientation, initial preparation can include:

  • Previous experience
  • Training workshops
  • Child Development Associate (CDA) credential
  • State early childhood endorsement, credential or certificate
  • College credit hours in early childhood education or child development
  • Associate degree or a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, child development or a related field

Annual training

Annual training reviews and reinforces child care best practices and helps you learn new information and skills. Annual training should cover the following topics:

  • Child abuse prevention, identification and reporting
  • Child development and learning
  • Health, safety and nutrition
  • Working with families and the community
  • Program management
  • Teaching and learning and inclusion practices
  • Observation, documentation and assessment
  • Interactions and guidance
  • Professionalism

Additional information about health and safety training is here.

Child Care Aware® of America's recommendations for initial training and annual training

Child Care Aware® of America recommends that all child care providers be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of initial training in child development and guidance and other basic health and safety practices prior to working alone with children. Family child care providers should have this training before opening their doors to unrelated children. Child Care Aware® of America recommends that all child care providers be required to complete at least 24 hours of annual training that will lead to a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.

The Council for Professional Recognition awards the CDA Credential to individual child care providers in both child care centers and family child care homes. After completing 120 hours of required formal training in eight content areas, candidates must pass the CDA Competency Goals assessment. Additional information from the Council for Professional Development is at

Where you can find training

  • Most Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&R) offer training or can guide you to training sources. Find your local CCR&R agency by contacting Child Care Aware toll-free at 800-424-2246 or by entering your zip code in the Find Your Local CCR&R box on the right side of this page.
  • Additional sources for training include professional organizations such as local affiliates of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Zero to Three, and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), community colleges, local colleges and universities, social service and health agencies, private organizations and other child care programs.