Core Competencies

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Early education is crucial in helping children enjoy lifelong successCore Competencies define what professionals need to know and be able to do to provide quality care and education programs for children/youth and families.

Competencies describe the specific knowledge and observable skills or attributes needed by the practitioners. The Core Competencies establish a set of standards for professionalization of the field.

The Core Competencies are divided into eight content areas:

  • Child Growth and Development: Includes understanding how children acquire language and creative expression and develop physically, cognitively, and socially.
  • Learning Environment and Curriculum: Covers establishing an environment that provides learning experiences that meet each child’s needs, capabilities, and interests.
  • Child Observation and Assessment: Teaches how to observe and assess what children know and can do in order to provide curriculum that meets their developmental and learning needs.
  • Families and Communities: Helps professionals work collaboratively with families and agencies/organizations to meet children’s needs and to encourage the community’s involvement with early learning.
  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition: Covers how to establish and maintain an environment that ensures children’s healthy development, safety and nourishment.
  • Interactions with Children: Includes establishing supportive relationships with children and guide them as individuals and as a part of a group.
  • Program Planning and Development: Covers establishing, implementing, and evaluating an early learning program.
  • Professional Development and Leadership: Helps professionals serve children and families in a professional manner and participate in the community as a representative of early childhood care and education.

The Core Competencies provide a framework of the knowledge and skills for each of the five levels of professional preparation:

  • Level 1 includes the knowledge and skills expected of a professional new to the early education field with minimal specialized training/education.
  • Level 2 includes level 1 plus the knowledge and skills learned while earning a Child Development (CDA) credential, or equivalent training/education.
  • Level 3 includes the previous levels plus knowledge and skills learned while earning an associate’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
  • Level 4 includes the previous levels plus knowledge and skills learned while earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
  • Level 5 includes the previous levels plus knowledge and skills learned while earning an advanced degree in early childhood education or child development.

The Core Competencies may be used in a variety of ways by various positions within the field:

  • Early education professionals may use them to assess their level of knowledge and skills in the content areas/levels and identify future professional education needs.
  • Directors and Administrators may use them to develop staff training and specify training requirements, establish salary scales or develop job descriptions.
  • Training organizations may use them to plan, organize and promote educational opportunities.
  • Higher Education may use them to assess, design and coordinate course and degree program content and to facilitate transfer and articulation agreements.
  • Government agencies may use them to develop and implement policies that will enhance professionalism in the field.

If you have questions or would like additional copies, please contact one of our Quality Outreach Specialists.

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