The Process and Impact of the Infant/Toddler Credential as Professional Development: Reflections from Multiple Perspectives and Recommendations for Policy

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Early childhood educators worldwide all strive to improve the quality of care and education for young children through sustainable pathways. One such pathway is professional development (PD). In the United States, ongoing PD has been recognized as critical to enhancing practitioners’ professional competence. Situated within the broader context of early childhood professional development systems, this study examined the New Jersey Infant/Toddler Credential (NJITC) as a case of PD. Specifically, we evaluated the effectiveness of the NJITC as PD by investigating its process as well as impact on the participating practitioners’ professional growth and practice from multiple perspectives: written reflections from a course instructor and a childcare center director; survey reflective responses from 12 practitioners; and informal conversations with childcare center directors, course instructors, field supervisors, and practitioners. The findings revealed that having the NJITC coursework offered through an onsite PD model and supported by a state-based scholarship program provided much needed incentives to encourage participation. It also resulted in improved professional growth and practice among the participating practitioners. However, it is only to the extent that the infant/toddler practitioners continue to engage in continuous PD beyond the ITC coursework will they be able to keep themselves abreast of the state of knowledge and best practices from which to further enhance their professional competence. In light of the process and impact of the NJITC on practitioners’ acquisition of specialized knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively work with infants and toddlers, implications and recommendations for policy are discussed.

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Early Childhood Education Journal

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