Occasional Paper Series #42

Honoring Knowledge and Experience: Highlighting Caregiver Voices in a Professional Development Curriculum

by Margie Brickley

Infant-toddler care, family child care, and training programs for those working with very young children and their families have much in common. The misconceptions, biases, and lack of resources they suffer from often seem insurmountable.

Professional development can address some of these issues, but too often, the approach is to offer one- off workshops on a variety of topics—art activities one month, environments the next. Each workshop is usually led by a different practitioner with their own philosophy of child care. There is rarely a through line of theory or practice that participants can grasp to build their own practice. The sessions can be lecture based or hands on, but most seem to start from the perspective that the participants are there to be “filled up” with new knowledge.

So what happens when a team of people join with a community to create a professional development program from a strength-based perspective? At Bank Street College of Education in New York City, an opportunity evolved, with funding from the Guttman Foundation, to create such a professional development experience for people working with young children and their families. Participants included family child care providers (people who care for a group of young children in a home-based setting) and child care center-based staff working with infants and toddlers. (The Guttman Center program is described in more detail in the article by Dr. Robin Hancock in this issue.) The model includes professional development course sessions as well as coaching.

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About the Author

Margie BrickleyMargie Brickley is the director of the Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention Program at Bank Street College of Education. She teaches courses in development and assessment as well as advising graduate students in fieldwork. She has worked with infants, toddlers, and families in child care and early intervention programs. Margie designed the professional development program described in the article.