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Top Child Care Schools Online

It’s no secret that most families can’t afford to keep a stay-at-home parent anymore. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated that almost 60 percent (BLS.gov, 2012) of families have both parents employed pushing the role caregiver off to child care professionals, especially during the child’s formative years. Because nannies and child care center workers are expected to care for young infants and provide preschool education to toddlers, child care professionals must go through training and have valid credentials, usually as a Child Development Associate.

While many states may require a lengthy licensure process, the education requirements for a child care provider can be as simple as earning a high school diploma and completing a appropriate training course. Many of these courses involve proper care of infants and toddlers and the importance of routine in a child’s life and many of these classes can be completed online as well, or through distance learning. And while some child care centers may prefer their employees have a degree like an associate degree in child development or child education, many of these classes can be completed though distance learning.

However, almost 600 hours of professional experience with children under the age of five is required for obtaining the CDA credential which is required for some licensing. This experience cannot be performed online and must be observed by a credentialed adviser. Additionally, many states require attendance of a short, state-approved, training course which also cannot be completed online. Make sure to look into your state’s individual requirements for a child care licensing before choosing a program. Some states may also require a child care provider have up-to-date training in CPR.

Below are some of the child care focuses available from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

The Child Development Associate Credential

As previously mentioned, many states require a child care provider to be approved by a nationally recognized credentialing agency and hold a valid certificate. All 50 states accept the CDA credential for licensure and most require it (BLS.gov, 2012). Earning the credential is one of the important steps to complete before providing child care. The only people who may apply for the credential are individuals who have obtained a high school diploma (or equivalent) or who are currently enrolled in a child development class at a high school or vocational program.

The CDA is provided by the Council for Professional Recognition and provides credentials for various specializations: Head Start, pre-kindergarten, infant and toddler, family child care and home visitor (nanny/babysitter). The council also provides training materials for candidates to prepare for the CDA examination. This training does not include or replace required work experience hours.

The council requires candidates for the CDA to have completed 120 hours of training in child development and 480 hours of work-experience and to have done so within five years of applying for the credential. Candidates should complete their formal observation period in the six months prior to their application date. During the observation period, candidates will be observed with three children, varying in age from birth to 5-years old.

Family Child Care & Nannies

Family child care center workers and nannies care for the basic needs of children and a child’s education. They prepare meals, change diapers, create and maintain a child’s schedule and introduce children to preschool education and concepts like sharing and cooperation. They may read to children and involve children in creative activities such as art, dance and music. Nannies may watch children both before and after school and may live near or in the homes of the families that employ them.

According to the BLS, (BLS.gov, 2012), many states do not have any education requirements for employment as a child care worker or as a nanny. Although, many parents would prefer their child be cared for by a professional who has received training in child development and who has interacted with children before. While there is no substitute for previous work experience with children, education on child development, nutrition, and care can be completed online with on-site practicals.

While many households may hire part-time nannies or child care workers, child care centers may require licensure and valid credentials before employing anyone as a child care worker. Additionally, after 2013, child care workers for national Head Start programs, which provide child care services and preschool education to low income families, will be required to have an associate degree in childhood education prior to employment. Head Start has also increased the distance learning opportunities for health care providers to earn their degrees while still employed.

For nannies who want to show their expertise caring for children, the International Nanny Association offers certification as an INA Credentialed Nanny, following completion of an exam and meeting the minimum requirement of 2000 hours of professional in-home child care experience and current certification in infant/child CPR and First Aid.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) reports the national median hourly wage of a child care worker was $9.34 in May of 2011. Pay for all child care workers can vary depending on the work setting and education level of the child care worker. Child care workers are expected to see an employment growth of up to 20 percent between 2010 and 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012) as parents will continue to need dedicated care for their children during the working hours.

Child Care Center Providers & Directors

Child care centers are daycares and nurseries where parents drop off their children during the work hours. These centers are highly regulated by states and usually require their workers and directors be fingerprinted and checked against a criminal database. The directors of these centers supervise the child care workers and assist the staff with issues involving children and parents. The directors are also responsible for developing budgets and setting fees.

Child care providers operate a child care center out of their homes and are governed by the same regulations that govern child care centers. Because they own their child care center, they decide the educational programs and standards for program completion.

Many centers require their directors have a high school diploma or an associate degree in childhood education. According to O*Net Online, 31 percent of child care center directors and administrators reported that an associate degree or a high school diploma were enough for employment, the rest reported that a bachelor’s degree was the minimum. Some states may require child care center directors to have experience in early childhood education; the amount of experience varies upon the state. Child care providers are also required to keep up a facility’s license and ensure they have all the required immunizations.

As of May 2011, the national median salary of a education administrator in a preschool or child care center was reported by the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) at $43,830 per year. The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) also projects up to 25 percent employment growth for the profession from 2010 to 2020 as the age of children in child care centers continues to grow and the focus on pre-school education increases.

Learn more about accredited child care programs from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

There are several regional and national organizations that are authorized to accredit online child care schools, including The Distance Education and Training Council which provides a searchable list of accredited intuitions. The National Association for the Education of Young Children also offers a list of accredited associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs focusing on early childhood education.

Not all child development courses are approved by the council, for a list of approved programs and schools, see the council-provided national listof programs and schools. If the school is not approved, credit hours will not count towards the 120 hours of training.

Please be sure to verify that your schools of interest have all been accredited by professional accrediting organizations that are approved by The U.S. Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both and that course credit-hours will count towards the CDA credential.

Best Education Schools

The following schools have been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the “Best Education Schools” in the nation. U.S. News publishes yearly lists of their “top” or “best” schools, both nationally and internationally. Education schools often include child care programs as part of their curriculum.

1.   Vanderbilt University

2.   Harvard University

3.   University of Texas, Austin

4.   Stanford University

5.   Teachers College, Columbia University

6.   Johns Hopkins University

7.   University of California, Los Angeles

8.   University of Oregon

9.   Northwestern University

10. University of Pennsylvania


Sources and further reading:

The Distance Education and Training Council

The U.S. Department of Education

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation

The National Association for the Education of Young Children

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook

The International Nanny Association

Council for Professional Recognition, CDA requirements

U.S. News & World Report