I had the opportunity recently to attend the CDA Summit in my state. One of favorite parts of the day was listening to a panel talk about WHY those in early childhood should pursue higher education – particularly a CDA credential. When one of the panel participants was asked what motivated her in that direction, she responded, “Because a parent called me the ‘B’ word.” Yes, that word that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to most of us in the field….a babysitter.
Why does this word make us cringe so? Because for many of us it brings up visual images of preteen girls caring for young children on an occasional basis….not early childhood professionals developing strong relationships with children & families and showing a commitment to the growth of children in all developmental domains and working hard to stay current and relevant to new developments in the field. Why should we care how others view us? Because how those outside our field view us is directly linked to how much they are willing to pay for our services as well as how those with an interest in young children view their future in the field.
When we seek that next step (whatever it is for us) in our professional growth, we send the message this is not just a job I do, but this is a career commitment for me. When we work to support standards for our state related to who can care for children, we are providing a better future for children. “Research confirms that teachers and caregivers with higher education levels offer higher quality early education programs with more positive child outcomes. This is particularly true when caregiver education is in child development and early childhood education” (Oesterreich & Hegland, 2012). So while many of us may have entered the field because we “like” children, it is time to step up to the plate and make the commitment to move the field from the “B” word to the profession of early childhood.
To learn more about the Child Development Associate national credential, visit http://www.cdacouncil.org/. To learn more about scholarships available to those seeking a higher degree in the field, a starting place to visit is T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood at http://www.childcareservices.org/ps/help_school.html Make this investment in yourself as an early childhood professional!
P.S. To share your thoughts and resources on this topic, visit us at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/notababysitter