Contact, or “clock,” hours for child care workers ensure that teachers are trained and qualified to be in the classroom. Your role and experience level will determine the number of hours you must complete annually.
The link between early childhood education programs and prospects for a better future has been widely acknowledged in the last decade. The success of these programs is largely dependent on the early childhood development training of the educators. Many states require contact hours for child care workers to secure federal funding, which helps provide a high-quality educational experience.
Federal Requirments for Funding
The Preschool for All initative targets low-to-middle-income 4-year-olds by requiring states to meet minimum requirements to receive federal funding. So far, 18 states have taken advantage of the program. One of the requirements those states have to meet is having qualified instructors in every preschool classroom and child care center.
Depending on the state you work in, and your job description, clock hours may focus on specific aspects related to your job or the overall development of your child care abilities. The depth and range of the clock hours you are required to complete annually depends on the state in which you work.
Clock Hours Improve Early Childhood Programs at All Levels
The guidelines for continuing education in the child care field allow you to stay up-to-date on teaching methods, learn new ways to assess behavior, and improve your inclusion of special needs children in activities and lessons. Some of the standard topics covered by contact hours include: professional behavior and communication, developing appropriate activities, and health and safety issues.
Daycare directors may be required to participate in more business-oriented clock hours each year. Some states have much lower and less specific requirements, while others specify exact percentages of time that should be dedicated to each area of study.
Differing State Requirements for Contact Hours
In Texas, the requirements are 15 clock hours for child care providers each year, and 20 clock hours for directors. Anyone who transports children must take an additional two hours on transportation safety. Half of your hours can come from self-instructional programs.
According to Texas A&M University, subjects include child growth and development, guidance and discipline, age-appropriate curriculum, teacher-child interaction, and care of special needs children. For directors, six of their hours must cover at least one of those same topics. If the director has held that title for five years or less, an additional six hours must cover leadership, management techniques, or staff supervision. Only three hours is required in those topics if the director has more than five years experience.
In North Carolina, clock hour requirements are based on education and experience. If you have at least a four-year degree in a relevant field of study, only five clock hours are required of you annually, whether you are a director or a caregiver. If you do not have a degree or certificate but have 10 or more years qualifying experience, you need 15 clock hours annually.
Each state has its own requirements and variations on clock hours, so be sure to check with your State Department of Education.
If you are a teacher or administrator in an early childhood education program and would like to learn more about self-instructional programs that contribute to your contact hours for child care, contact Naptime Academy at 844-435-7682.