We Grow Together Professional Development System: Professional Development Experiences in Infant-Toddler Care

We Grow Together Professional Development System: Professional Development Experiences in Infant-Toddler Care

OPRE Report #2021-157
Published: Jul 30, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Associated Project

We Grow Together: The Professional Development Tools for Improving Quality for Infant and Toddler Care

Time frame: 2015–2023

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Authors

Ann Li

Tutrang Nguyen

Key Findings
  • Before We Grow Together (WGT), caregivers were already participating in various professional development (PD) activities provided by their organizations. Understanding how existing PD activities and demands influence caregivers’ time and ability to focus on an intensive PD system might be important for scheduling and designing new PD interventions.
  • There are differences across settings in caregivers’ ability to use paid preparation or planning time, and paid time during work hours for staff development.
  • Caregivers benefit from having a trusting relationship with their PD providers. Caregivers who reported having a previous coaching relationship with their PD provider reported having a more positive goal-setting experience.
  • Most PD providers reported time as a challenge to implementing WGT, although this was less of an issue for PD providers serving FCCs. PD providers in center-based settings might be more challenged by balancing various job responsibilities and higher caseloads of caregivers.
  • It is important for PD providers and their caregivers to have enough time to fully engage in new evidence-based interventions that might be available. More time for professional development might become available by providing additional supports and incentives or aligning new interventions like WGT with existing system requirements and supports.

We Grow Together (WGT) is a research-based professional development (PD) system for caregivers working with infants and toddlers in center-based care and family child care homes. As part of WGT, teachers and caregivers work with their PD providers (mentors, coaches, supervisors) using resources delivered through a website. The system supports caregivers in planning and using the WGT practices through relationship- and practice-based coaching. A field test of WGT examined implementation with teachers and caregivers of infants and toddlers and their PD providers in Early Head Start, family child care, and community-based child care settings. The goal of this brief is to describe PD experiences from the field test. Specifically, this brief addresses the following questions: Who were the PD providers in the WGT field test? Who were the caregivers in the WGT field test?

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