Standards for child and youth development programs
Child and Youth Development Human Resources (CYD-HR) 5: Initial Orientation and Training
Initial orientation and training sessions provide new personnel with the information and skills they need to perform their jobs.
While the training addressed in this core concept is intended to be initial training as opposed to the more ongoing professional development addressed in CYD-HR 6, COA does recognize that training on some of the topics addressed in CYD-HR 5.04 through 5.09 may not be provided until after personnel have begun work at the program. However, it is also important to note that personnel should never be expected to perform a task or provide a level of care that they are not yet prepared to handle. Accordingly, depending on the degree of responsibility personnel are expected to assume upon starting their jobs, it may be appropriate to provide pre-service training on some of the topics addressed in CYD-HR 5.04 through 5.09.
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Regarding element (a), the duties of personnel, and the competencies they are expected to demonstrate, should guide the development of the training they receive.
All personnel receive and confirm in writing receipt of an up-to-date employee policies and procedures manual that articulates current:
conditions of employment;
rights and responsibilities of employees; and
other important employment-related information.
Other relevant topics to address in the manual may include, but are not limited to: emergency and safety procedures; equal employment policies; nepotism; grievance process procedures; conditions and procedures for layoffs; insurance protections including unemployment, disability, medical care, and malpractice liability; performance appraisal system; promotions; professional development; standards of conduct; time-off policies; wage policies; working conditions; technology security and usage policies; and the use of social media, electronic communications, and mobile devices.
Before working with children and youth, new personnel are given an orientation that includes an overview of:
the program’s mission, goals, practices, and schedule;
their job descriptions, including their responsibilities to children and youth, families, and the program;
the needs and other relevant characteristics of program participants, including cultural and socioeconomic characteristics;
program policies and procedures, including policies and procedures related to health and safety, emergencies, and confidentiality;
personnel policies and procedures, including expectations regarding work hours and schedules, breaks, and planning time;
the roles of different program personnel; and
lines of accountability and authority within the program.
Although the format of orientation may vary from program to program, it should include a review of the information described in the standard. Personnel should also receive a tour of the program space, be introduced to their co-workers and any other relevant staff (e.g., custodian), and have an opportunity to raise any questions they have.
Out-of-school time personnel who work with children and youth are trained in:
child and youth development, including what matters most at different stages of development;
building caring, supportive relationships with children and youth;
implementing programming and activities, including techniques for instructing and engaging children and youth;
effective group management;
strategies for engaging children and youth with different temperaments, needs, and abilities;
strategies for promoting social and emotional development;
positive techniques for guiding and managing behavior, including for recognizing and de-escalating potentially volatile situations;
engaging and working with families;
expectations for collaboration with community partners (e.g., with the program host or collaborating service providers);
expectations for professional conduct; and
topics relevant to program activities (e.g., academics, physical fitness, nutrition, performing arts).
In addition to ensuring staff have the competencies needed to work with children and youth, it may also be helpful to train staff in other areas that support job performance, such as team building, time management, and continuous quality improvement.
NAThe program is not an out-of-school time program.
Note: Please note that additional expectations regarding the qualifications and competencies of staff providing specific types of activities are included in the OST Programming Supplements.
Early childhood education teaching staff receives training in early childhood development and education including:
curriculum training to ensure consistent implementation;
how to support a child’s positive relationships with his or her peers;
positive guidance techniques of behavior management;
classroom activities appropriate to children of different developmental levels;
recognizing developmental differences between children;
use of screening and/or assessment tools;
skills in observation and documentation;
effective classroom management; and
teaching strategies for working with young children.
Teaching strategies include:
techniques for keeping children engaged and motivated;
methods for evaluating the effectiveness of teaching strategies and the comprehension of the child;
methods for working with small or large groups;
teacher-directed and child-directed instruction;
how to choose activities and materials;
how to break down tasks into manageable components; and
how to organize instruction to achieve developmental milestones.
In addition to ensuring staff have the competencies needed to work with children, it may also be helpful to train staff in other areas that support job performance, such as team building, time management, and continuous quality improvement.
NAThe program is not an early childhood education program.
Studies have shown that curriculum implementation is often inconsistent without proper training and technical assistance. A study of preschoolers attending 14 Hartford, Connecticut child care centers found that children who received care from teachers with intensive curriculum training and support demonstrated improved school readiness.
When teaching staff are responsible for conducting comprehensive developmental screenings, they should be properly trained. Comprehensive developmental screenings include instruments that measure general and social-emotional development. The screenings help identify children who may have developmental delays or disabilities so they can be connected to relevant resources or more specialized screenings. Research shows that early intervention is key to future success and achievement of positive outcomes. Not all programs will offer developmental screenings on-site. Many will refer families to outside providers for screening when there are concerns. See CYD-HR 5.06 and CYD-ECE 9.01 for more information on referring children with special needs to needed support services.
Personnel who work with children and youth are trained to recognize and respond appropriately when children and youth have needs that may warrant special care or referral to additional services.
In the context of this standard, children and youth with needs that may warrant special care or additional services include, but are not limited to: children and youth who speak a foreign language; children and youth who may be experiencing a crisis; children and youth with special health needs (e.g., chronic asthma); children and youth with special mental health needs (e.g., a history of trauma); children and youth with developmental disabilities or limitations; children and youth who are abused or neglected; and children and youth who are living in poverty. Accordingly, personnel should be trained to work with foreign language speakers, respond to individuals and families in crisis, provide trauma-informed care, and work with children and youth with special needs. In some cases procedures for meeting needs in these areas may include collaborating with the Program Administrator or Site Director to determine how to connect a child with needed services.
It will be especially important for teaching staff in early childhood education programs to recognize the signs and symptoms of conditions that may require specialized services, additional screenings, or other referrals, including for mental health or developmental delays.
Personnel who work with children and youth receive training on cultural responsiveness that includes:
exploration of their own culture and biases and their effect on interactions with children, youth, and families;
information on varying beliefs, customs, values, and child rearing practices of the different cultural groups represented at the program;
how to communicate openly and work respectfully with families of other cultures;
information on cultural dynamics; and
the role that culture plays in child and youth development.
Personnel who work with children and youth receive training that covers the program’s health and safety procedures, including:
meeting the basic health-related needs of the service population, including needs related to nutrition and physical fitness;
hand washing procedures;
proper handling and storage of disinfectants and any other potentially hazardous substances;
procedures regarding contagious and infectious disease prevention;
food preparation, storage, and service;
handling emergencies, including incidents involving poison, burns, and other medical emergencies;
detection and mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect;
procedures for coordinating with other professionals, as needed;
medication control and administration, if applicable;
diapering procedures, if applicable;
SIDS prevention procedures, if applicable; and
safety and injury prevention related to the specific activities offered (e.g., sports, cooking, science, etc.).
Every state has some version of a mandatory reporting process for suspected child abuse and neglect. Details about the reporting laws in each state, including who is required to report, can be found on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.
Program administrators and/or directors receive training in:
program administration and management;
collaborating appropriately with other community members, organizations, and institutions; and
legal topics relevant to program operations, management, and oversight.
Topics relevant to program administration and management include: (1) financial management; (2) human resources; (3) risk prevention and management; (4) continuous quality improvement; and (5) leadership.
Legal topics relevant to program operations, management, and oversight include: (1) federal and state laws requiring disclosure of confidential information for law enforcement purposes, including compliance with a court-order, warrant, or subpoena; (2) the program’s policies and procedures on confidentiality and disclosure of information, and penalties for violation of these policies and procedures; and (3) the legal rights of children and youth and their families.