Demand continues for qualified child care workers

Quality child care is in such high demand. that many young families put their unborn child's name on a wait list as soon as they find out they are pregnant.With such a great need, opportunities are plentiful for qualified people who want to work in child care. More and more people are pursuing a degree in child care.

The numbers help tell this story.{}According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, employment of child care workers is expected to increase by close to 15% over the next decade.{} Child care facilities are always looking for highly qualified workers.{} And, workers are bringing degrees in child care and early education to the table.{}Kristie Chandler is the department chair of human development and family life education at Samford University. Samford offers a degree that centers on child development education.

"Quality child care is crucial," says Chandler. "The research consistently shows that there is a great need for intentional development during those early years." Chandler knows that the demands for qualified people to work will continue to rise. There are a number of different careers in child care.{}The most common being a child care worker: someone who is responsible for the basic needs of the children in their care.{} "It's, in some ways taking the place of the parent from 7:00{}AM until 6:00 PM, or later," says Chandler.While there is no state requirement for someone working with children prior to kindergarten to have a degree, Chandler says more child care centers are looking to hire workers with that distinction.{} "As centers are providing good child care, but want to increase the quality of their child care, they're going to start hiring additional people that have a bachelors degree, maybe an associates degree, but someone who is trained in the area,"{}Chandler says.A child development bachelor's degree prepares students for several different positions in the child care industry,{}including careers in education, social services, and government.

Another option is a four-year degree in child care management for those wanting to run a child care facility.{}Gwen Ford is child development director at Gadsden State Community College. The college offers a two year associate degree in early childhood/preschool education

"I always tell them, if you're not going to get on the floor, indian style with them and play and do a lot of the other things that go along with course work, then it may not be the field for you," says Ford. "Our enrollment has increased because of the need."As part of the curriculum, students are required to take part in several hours of practicum experience at local child care facilities. Ford says the majority of her students who graduate, end up going to work at local Head Start organizations. Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5.Sonya Brown is the education manager at Head Start in Gadsden. Head Start requires teachers to earn national certifications, such as the Child Care Professional (CCP) or the Child Development Associate (CDA)."Especially in early Head Start, you can't come in the door until you have a CDA and it has to be an emphasis on infant and toddler (education)," says Brown.Brown says having that education and experience can open doors for more opportunities.{} "It's getting stricter and stricter, and that's just for the benefit of our children, where when they move forward, that they're going to be ready for kindergarten," says Brown.Also, these professionals may be required to be certified in CPR or first aid, depending on the requirements of their employer. For more information on quality child care,{}contact{}Child Care Resources in Birmingham has information for families,{}as well as the National Association for the Education of Young Children.