Child care workers provide care for children when the parents or family members are unavailable. They look after the children’s basic needs and help or supervise them during play. Child care workers can work for preschools, daycare centres, childcare agencies or individual families.
Child care workers typically do the following:
- Supervise and monitor the safety of children
- Prepare and organize mealtimes and snacks for children
- Help children keep good hygiene
- Change the diapers of infants and toddlers
- Organize activities or implement a curriculum that allows children to learn about the world and explore their interests
- Develop schedules and routines to ensure that children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
- Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring potential problems to the attention of parents or guardians
- Keep records of children’s progress, routines, and interests
Child care workers read and play with babies and toddlers to introduce basic concepts. For example, they teach them how to share and take turns by playing games with other children.
Child care workers help preschool-age children prepare for kindergarten. Young children learn from playing, questioning, and experimenting. Child care workers use play and other instructional techniques to help children’s development. For example, they may use storytelling and rhyming games to teach language and vocabulary. They may help improve children’s social skills by having them work together to build something in a sandbox. Or they may teach about numbers by having children count when building with blocks. They also involve children in creative activities, such as art, dance, and music.
Child care workers may also watch school-age children before and after school. They often help these children with their homework and may take them to afterschool activities, such as sports practices and club meetings.
During the summer, when children are out of school, child care workers may watch older children as well as younger ones while the parents are at work
The following job titles also refer to child care worker:
nursery school director
early childhood worker
child care manager
day care assistant
nursery school worker
day care director
early childhood center manager
nursery school assistant
child care assistant
nursery school manager
day care worker
early childhood assistant
early childhood center director
day care manager
child care director
Family childcare workers care for children in their own homes. They may convert a portion of their living space into a dedicated space for the children. Nannies usually work in their employers’ homes.
Many states limit the number of children that each staff member is responsible for by regulating the ratio of staff to children. Ratios vary with the age of the children. Child care workers are responsible for relatively few babies and toddlers. However, workers may be responsible for greater numbers of older children.
Child care workers’ schedules vary, and part-time work is common.
Childcare centers usually are open year round, with long hours so that parents or guardians can drop off and pick up their children before and after work. Some centers employ full-time and part-time staff with staggered shifts to cover the entire day.
Family childcare providers may work long or irregular hours to fit parents’ work schedules. In some cases, these childcare providers offer evening and overnight care to meet the needs of families. After the children go home, family childcare providers often have more responsibilities, such as shopping for food or supplies, keeping records, and cleaning.
Nannies work either full or part time. Full-time nannies may work more than 40 hours a week to cover parents’ time commuting to and from work.
Employers often prefer to hire workers who have at least a high school diploma. However, child care workers with postsecondary education or an early childhood education credential may qualify for higher level positions.
Although it is not required, bachelor’s degree study in fields such as education, psychology, or family and consumer sciences may be helpful.
Many states require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff often must pass a background check, have a complete record of immunizations, and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states require staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
Some states and employers require child care workers to have a nationally recognized credential.
Many states and employers require providers to complete some training before beginning work. Also, many states require staff in childcare centers to complete a minimum number of training hours annually. Training may include information about topics such as safe sleep practices for infants.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Child care worker is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Child care worker career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to child care worker.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of child care worker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of child care worker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of child care worker.
- Workplace sanitation: The importance of a clean, sanitary workspace for example through use of hand disinfectant and sanitizer, in order to minimise infection risk between colleagues or when working with children.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of child care worker.
- Handle chemical cleaning agents: Ensure proper handling, storage and disposal of cleaning chemicals in accordance with regulations.
- Assist in children’s development of basic personal skills: Encourage and facilitate the development of children’s natural curiosity and social and language abilities through creative and social activities such as storytelling, imaginative play, songs, drawing, and games.
- Play with children: Engage in activities for enjoyment, tailored to children of a certain age. Be creative and improvise to amuse children with activities such as tinkering, sports or board games.
- Communicate with youth: Use verbal and non-verbal communication and communicate through writing, electronic means, or drawing. Adapt your communication to children and young people`s age, needs, characteristics, abilities, preferences, and culture.
- Attend to children’s basic physical needs: Tend to children by feeding them, dressing them, and, if necessary, regularly changing their diapers in a sanitary manner.
- Maintain relations with children’s parents: Inform children`s parents of the activities planned, program`s expectations and children`s individual progress.
- Supervise children: Keep the children under supervision for a certain period of time, ensuring their safety at all times.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of child care worker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Baby care: The procedures required to take care of children up to the age of 1, such as feeding, bathing, soothing, and diapering the baby.
- Disability care: The specific methods and practices used in providing care to people with physical, intellectual and learning disabilities.
- Common children’s diseases: The symptoms, characteristics, and treatment of diseases and disorders that often affect children, such as the measles, chickenpox, asthma, the mumps, and head lice.
- Pedagogy: The discipline that concerns the theory and practice of education including the various instructional methods for educating individuals or groups.
- Babysitting: Temporarily taking care of a child for a small remuneration.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of child care worker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Manage children’s problems: Promote the prevention, early detection, and management of children`s problems, focusing on developmental delays and disorders, behavioural problems, functional disabilities, social stresses, mental disorders including depression, and anxiety disorders.
- Assist children with homework: Help children with school tasks. Assist the child with the interpretation of the assignment and the solutions. Make sure the child studies for tests and exams.
- Carry out wound care: Cleanse, irrigate, probe, debride, pack and dress wounds.
- Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
- Assess the development of youth: Evaluate the different aspects of development needs of children and young people.
- Prepare sandwiches: Make filled and open sandwiches, paninis and kebabs.
- Support the positiveness of youths: Help children and young people to assess their social, emotional and identity needs and to develop a positive self image, enhance their self esteem and improve their self reliance.
- Dispose waste: Dispose waste in accordance with legislation, thereby respecting environmental and company responsibilities.
- Support children who have experienced trauma: Support children who have experienced trauma, identifying their needs and working in ways that promote their rights, inclusion and well being.
- Clean rooms: Clean rooms by cleaning glasswork and windows, polishing furniture, vacuuming carpets, scrubing hard floors, and removing garbage.
- Relate empathetically: Recognise, understand and share emotions and insights experienced by another.
- Support children’s wellbeing: Provide an environment that supports and values children and helps them to manage their own feelings and relationships with others.
- Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
- Prepare ready-made dishes: Get ready for serving snacks and sandwiches or heat up ready-made bar products if requested.
- Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
ISCO group and title
5311 – Child care workers
- Child care worker – ESCO
- Childcare Workers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Featured image: Photo by Benson Low on Unsplash