Resources for Childcare Providers

Start Early

There's more proof now that starting early is critical. Those first years are the most important!

In the first few years of life, the human brain forms 700 new neural connections every second. That’s 42,000 each minute, or over 6 million each day! These are the connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend. 

To learn more about how impactful this brain development is, please read this article from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2013.

Multiply the Positive

Whatever you emphasize, whether positive or negative, you will see more of it. If you place your attention and comments to children on the positive behaviors you see, you will experience more positive behaviors (if you comment on the negative behavior, you will see more of the negative behavior).

When you see a child exhibiting the behavior you want, say it out loud (shout it to the world?) – with specific, descriptive praise. “You got another truck for your friend. You are so thoughtful.”  Or, “Thank you. You waited quietly and patiently while I was on the phone. We are ready to go to the park now.”  Or “Sasha is raising her quiet hand. What song would you like to sing, Sasha?” The more you comment on the positive, the more you notice the positive and the more positive behavior the child does. 
Your words can help the positive behavior multiply!

Here are some more tips and information to help.

Social Emotional Development

How do children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling, what they expect to receive from others? These concepts are at the heart of their social-emotional wellness. They contribute to a child’s self-confidence and empathy, her ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships and partnerships, and her sense of importance and value to those around her. Children’s social-emotional development influences all other areas of development: Cognitive, motor, and language development are all greatly affected by how a child feels about herself and how she is able to express ideas and emotions.

Professionals sometimes define healthy social-emotional development in young children as early childhood mental health. Healthy social-emotional development includes the ability to:

  • Form and sustain positive relationships
  • Experience, manage, and express emotions
  • Explore and engage with the environment

Children with well-developed social-emotional skills are also more able to:

  • Express their ideas and feelings
  • Display empathy towards others
  • Manage their feelings of frustration and disappointment more easily
  • Feel self-confident more easily
  • Make and develop friendships
  • Succeed in school

Social-emotional development provides the foundation for how we feel about ourselves and how we experience others. This foundation begins the day we are born and continues to develop throughout our lifespan. The greatest influence on a child’s social-emotional development is the quality of the relationships that he develops with his primary caregivers.

Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children

Teacher resources including one page handouts for families with information on building social skills at home

Center on the Social & Emotional Foundations for Early Learning

  • Book list and lesson plans for childcare settings
  • Social stories
  • Problem solving materials
  • “What Works" briefs

Visual Supports

Visual supports help all children to understand rules and expectations, engage in daily routine, navigate transitions, communicate thoughts, feelings and needs, and increase independence in child care routines and activities. Visuals are especially helpful for children who are visual learners, have communication delays or are dual language learners.

Headstart Center for Inclusion

Developmental Milestones

While each child develops at their own rate, early intervention minimizes and can, in some cases, prevent delays in children’s development. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources for childcare providers and checklists to track children’s development.

For concerns about a child’s development, a family should contact the following agencies.

Birth to 3 Years Old

CDSA (Children's Developmental Services Agencies)
Provides evaluation and services for children with special needs or developmental delays

  • Cost: Evaluation — free
  • Services—sliding fee scale

In Durham County, NC, call 919-560-5600. For other NC counties visit this link to find your local office.

3-5 Years Old

Preschool Exceptional Children’s Program (at your local school district)
Accepts referrals, screens, and evaluates preschool children suspected of needing special education services. There is no cost to parents/guardians.

In Durham County, NC, call 919-560-3933 or in Spanish, call 919-560-2000, ext. 26262.

National Resources

Association for Childhood Education International

(ACEI) ACEI is a global community of educators and advocates who unite knowledge, experience, and perspectives in order to exchange information, explore innovation, and advocate for children. The Association promotes and supports the optimal education and development of children, from birth through early adolescence, and the professional growth of educators and others committed to the needs of children in a changing society.

Child Care Aware of America

Child Care Aware is the national network of more than 700 child care resource and referral centers located in every state and most communities across the U.S. These centers help families, child care providers, and communities find, provide, and plan for affordable, quality child care.

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Division for Early Childhood (DEC)

CEC is an international organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or those who are gifted. DEC is the Division of CEC that focuses on young children (birth through age 8) who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities.

Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)

The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, world-wide organization. A model of positive leadership and advocacy, the MCEC’s work is focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all military-connected children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. The MCEC performs research, develops resources, conducts professional institutes and conferences, and publishes resources for all constituencies.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

NAEYC is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. The Association administers a voluntary, national accreditation system for high-quality early childhood programs, sponsors a variety of initiatives to improve professional preparation of early childhood educators, and produces a wide array of early childhood resources. NAEYC membership provides participation in both national and local services through the Association's network of over 300 local, state, and regional Affiliates. is a new web-based clearinghouse created to disseminate the latest research and evidence-based guidance on raising a family and helping children. The site is designed for three major audiences (parents, educators and health professionals) and was funded by a grant from the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Division/APA Relations.

National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)

NAFCC is dedicated to promoting quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care. NAFCC provides technical assistance to family child care associations by promoting leadership development and by promoting quality and professionalism through the organization's accreditation process for family child care providers.

National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI)

NBCDI provides and supports programs, workshops, and resources for African American children, their parents and communities in early health and education, health, elementary and secondary education, child welfare, and parenting. Affiliate chapters in many regions of the country provide direct services at the community level.

National Head Start Association (NHSA)

NHSA is dedicated to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. The Association provides support for the Head Start community by advocating for policies to strengthen Head Start services; providing training and professional development to Head Start staff; and developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that enrich Head Start program delivery.

ACF Head Start Bureau

This website provides comprehensive information about Head Start programs, services, statistics, and events. ACF Office of Child CareThe Office of Child Care supports low-income working families through child care financial assistance and promotes children's learning by improving the quality of early care and education and afterschool programs. The Office of Child Care was established in September 2010 and replaces the former Child Care Bureau.

National Child Care Information Center (NCCIC)

NCCIC is a national clearinghouse and technical assistance center linking parents, providers, policy-makers, researchers, and the public to early care and education information. Pre-K Now's mission is to collaborate with advocates and policymakers to lead a movement for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year olds. The Reggio Emilia (Italy) approach to early childhood education is an inspiration to early childhood educators worldwide. Ideas about this approach can be accessed through publications, a newsletter, traveling exhibits, and seminars.

Zero to Three

Zero to Three's mission is to support the healthy development and well-being of infants, toddlers and their families. This multidisciplinary organization advances its mission by informing, educating, and supporting adults who influence the lives of infants and toddlers.