"Since teachers have begun taking turns visiting each other's programs, we understand better what others are dealing with. We share our ideas about teaching." (Dodge City teacher)
Rationale: The quality of the staff is a critical determinant of overall program quality. Research shows that staff training in child development and early childhood education is related to positive outcomes for children, such as increased social interaction with adults, appropriate behavior, and improved language and cognitive development.
Another important determinant of quality is the adult-child ratio and group size within the program. Well-organized staffing patterns facilitate responsive care and education. Research strongly suggests that smaller group sizes and an increase in the adult-child ratio are related to positive outcomes for children, such as increased interaction with adults, enhanced learning capability, as well as less aggression and more positive interaction with other children.
Outcomes: All Program Staff Possess A High Level of Skills and Knowledge For Their Respective Roles.
Standard 1: All staff demonstrate appropriate training and experience in developmentally appropriate early childhood practices commensurate with their positions.
Indicator 1. Staff are optimally qualified for their positions and for assisting children in advancing all aspects of their development (social, emotional, intellectual, and physical).
Indicator 2. Position descriptions are developed for all staff and volunteers, clearly describing roles and responsibilities.
Indicator 3. Staff receive ongoing opportunities to express program needs and give input into program planning and operation.
Standard 2: Sufficient staff, combined with organizational structure, ensure positive interactions and constructive activity among children, staff, and families.
Indicator 1. Adult-child ratios are based on current research findings and professional recommendations, considering number and ages of children, nature of the physical setting, and number of children with special needs in the program. When age groups are mixed, the lower ratio prevails.
Indicator 2. The adult-child ratio is sufficient to ensure adequate supervision, frequent personal contacts, and time for individual instruction and meeting diverse needs of all children.
Indicator 3. Time is allocated for regular, ongoing opportunities for staff and families to work collaboratively and cooperatively as a team.
Indicator 4. The staff exhibits developmentally appropriate interaction techniques, such as positive guidance, child-level communication, and child-initiated interactions. Such behavior is supportive of children's cognitive, psychological, and biological development.
Standard 3: Ongoing informal and formal staff evaluations are conducted, and opportunities for continuous professional development are available.
Indicator 1. Staff receive ongoing constructive suggestions, written and oral, that assist in fulfilling their professional responsibilities.
Indicator 2. Evaluation of each staff member consists of a variety of methods, including self-evaluation and observation. Written and oral feedback is provided.
Indicator 3. An individual improvement plan is developed, as necessary, for each staff member.
Standard 4: A comprehensive staff development plan ensures that individual and overall staff development needs are met as part of the underlying program goal to provide quality services for young children and families.
Indicator 1. Staff development is provided based on the identified needs of staff and families. Topics address developmental needs of young children (intellectual, health, nutrition, safety, learning, physical activity, etc.) as well as the skills needed to work in teams, work with parents, and facilitate integrated services.
Indicator 2. Flexible scheduling allows staff to participate in a broad range of relevant staff development activities, including on-site training, visits to other programs, conferences, meetings of professional organizations, and curriculum development projects.
Indicator 3. Professional resources are available to staff, including professional journals, books, tapes, videos, etc.
Indicator 4. Representatives from other programs and agencies are included in locally arranged in-services.