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  • Tips on Getting Ready for a New School Year

    One minute you're vacationing and enjoying the sun and suddenly it's time to go back to school.....yikes, what do you do?? Not to worry, transitioning to school doesn't have to be filled with tears, either from the kids or the adults! ;) The most important thing to remember is that preparation is key to success. We all tend to be more comfortable when we know what to expect and surprises may not always make us feel entirely secure. So waking your child one morning and announcing, "Surprise, it's the first day of school!" may not produce the best results, unless you're looking for a funny video for your Facebook page! Getting ready Parents and teachers both have a big task in being prepared for the first day. For parents, help your kids gradually get back in a routine from their summer freedom: Set regular bedtime and wake up times. This will ease the rude awakening of having to suddenly get up at a specific time every day. If kids don't already have a chores list, make one. The routine of doing chores will help them focus and be ready for homework (might be best not to mention that part to your kids!). Read to them each night before bed. Get them used to being quiet and listening. Besides, reading is always a good thing no matter the time of year! Visit the school. Nothing's worse than the fear of the unknown. If possible, take your child to the school on a weeknight or weekend so you can look around together and get them familiar with the setting so they don't feel overwhelmed when then have to go alone. Teachers have a hefty task ahead of them as well. In addition to all the classroom details to plan, here are some things to consider to make the first day run as smoothly as possible: Staff up. I'm sure it goes without saying that being prepared with sufficient staff is key! Nothing adds more stress than frantically trying to juggle too many tasks with too few people. Anticipate clients' needs. What will parents be needing and how can you be best prepared? Use social media. Get the word out about your program and help set expectations for parents. Set aside personal time. Don't forget to take some time for yourself, too. Enjoy a special dinner or activity before the first day arrives. The first day You've done everything you can do to prepare--now the moment of truth: the first day of school arrives (cue the scary music)! Relax, this is only a drill! ;) The key is to make it fun: Add little surprises (this time it's OK!). What would be more fun for a kid than to get a special note or treat in their lunch? Give support and encouragement. Tell them what to expect for the first day. Try the buddy system--everything's easier when you have someone with you, right?! Be prepared for separation anxiety. Don't show your anxiety as that will only add to the child's concerns. Keep the goodbyes short and sweet to avoid prolonging the issue. It will get easier over time! Focus on the opportunities. School opens up a whole new world for kids. Show them all the fun things they'll get to do in school: painting, coloring, playing with blocks, meeting new friends...the opportunities are limitless! Offer incentives or rewards. New clothes or school supplies with their favorite superhero can make any kid's day! Prepare a favorite activity for after school as a reward for their accomplishment. Whew, we made it! OK, deep breath...ah, now doesn't that feel better?! If you make it through the first day, it's all downhill from there. Keep up the good work and know you're making a difference for your children every day! Just so you know you're not alone in this journey, here are some funny stories from other teachers. Helpful resources Introducing Children to Child Care Tips for Handling the First Day of Preschool Goodbye without Tears Tips to Help with Separation Anxiety A Day in the Life of a Preschool Teacher Classroom Management the First Day of School Beginning of School Activities

  • How to Earn Your CDA Credentials

    Want to advance your career in child care?  If you're thinking about earning your Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credentials or maybe you're still just investigating, we hope this guide will help you in your decision-making! Introduction to the CDA If you're looking to move up professionally or simply want to build on your knowledge of early learning, the Child Development Associatiate® (CDA) Credential may be just for you!  It is one of the most well-recognized credentials in early childhood education and a great opportunity to grow your career.  It is designed to assess and credential early childhood education professionals. The Council for Professional Recognition, a non-profit organization located in Washington, DC (commonly known as the CDA Council), administers the CDA Credential program. Earning your CDA Credential is a big commitment, but one that will build confidence and help you develop a good understanding of today's best practices for teaching young children. Nearly 400,000 people have already received their CDA Credentials since the program's initial offering. In fact, there is growing demand for the CDA Credentials internationally, as more and more countries seek to improve the learning environment for young children. CDA Credentialing Process Overview CDA Webinars and Tutorials Resumen del proceso de certificación CDA Determining if You Need a CDA Just as all child care programs are different, the requirements for professionals within these programs may vary. Talk with your program staff about their policies and also check our state resources page for links to your state's early learning agencies for requirements in your state. While not all positions require post-secondary education, adding new knowledge and skills can be a great way to grow your career. The CDA Program is a tool for professionals who work in all types of early care and education programs: Head Start, pre-k, infant/toddler, family child care, and home visitor programs. Benefits of the CDA The Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in Early Childhood Education. What could that mean for you? Advance your career – additional education and credentialing could open doors and take you to the next step in your career path! You may also be eligible to receive college credits by earning your CDA (check with your college regarding their policies). Earn more money – who wouldn’t like to earn more money? With additional career opportunities, your earning power will continue to grow! Gain more confidence – knowing more about the early learning field can certainly help make you feel more confident working with children as well as speaking with parents, which can help put parents’ minds at ease too! Increase your knowledge – in such a broad and complex field, the learning never stops, from behavior management to good nutrition. And what could be more important than teaching tomorrow’s leaders! Many teachers find that having earned their CDA actually makes them a better teacher.  Watch this inspiring video about several teachers’ experience with the CDA. The CDA Application Process The process for earning your Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential is outlined on the CDA Council website.  It is a multi-step process involving continuing education, experience and observation.  You can also review our Guide to Preparing for Your CDA Credential for more detailed information.  Here is an outline of the process: Prepare Anytime before I apply Earn a high school diploma, GED or be enrolled as a junior or senior in a high school career and technical program in early childhood education.Complete 120 hours of formal early childhood education training, covering the growth and development of children within the ages of your selected setting (i.e., infant/toddler, preschool, or family child care), with no fewer than 10 training hours in each of the eight CDA subject areas. CDA Subject Areas - Planning a safe and healthy learning environment - Advancing children's physical and intellectual development - Supporting children's social and emotional development - Building productive relationships with families - Managing an effective program operation - Maintaining a commitment to professionalism - Observing and recording children's behavior - Understanding principles of child development and learning Within 3 years of submitting application: Obtain 480 hours of professional work experience in a center-based setting with children of the ages specific to your selected setting. Within 6 months of submitting application: Prepare your CDA Professional Portfolio - You are required to put together a collection of reference materials related to your work. Please follow the detailed instructions in your Competency Standards book to prepare your CDA Professional Portfolio.Find a CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist  - To learn more about CDA PD Specialist's role in the CDA credentialing process click here. Apply Apply online for your CDA Credential using the YourCDA online application system or complete a paper application provided in the CDA Preschool CDA Competency Standards Book.The non-refundable / non-transferable application fee must be submitted with your application. Make sure to secure the funds before you submit your application. Learn about CDA scholarships in your state.Once your CDA application has been reviewed and accepted you will receive a Ready to Schedule notification from the Council. Demonstrate Once you receive your Ready to Schedule notification from the Council, you are ready to schedule your CDA Verification Visit and CDA Exam. Earn Scores are electronically submitted to the Council by the CDA PD Specialist and Pearson Vue testing center.A Council committee will review the results of your assessment and render a decision whether to award you the CDA Credential. If your credential is awarded, the official Child Development Associate® credential will be mailed to you. If the committee decides you need more training, the Council will let you know the next steps to take to earn the Credential. CDA Renewal Keeping your CDA Credential current is an important step in continuing your professional development in your work with young children and their families. The early care and education profession is very delicate and it is imperative for early educators to stay up to date with the latest theories, research/studies, appropriate practices and latest trends in the early childhood education field. The continuous professional development of CDA Credential holders is a must to ensure the quality of care and education provided to our nation’s youngest children. Keeping this in mind, the Council requires you to renew your credential every three years. When Should You Start Preparing for Your Renewal? You should be preparing for your renewal well in advance of your application submission date.If you are renewing for the first time, you can begin preparing for your CDA renewal as soon as you earn your CDA Credential.If you have renewed before, you can begin gathering the requirements after the issue date of your most current credential. When Can You Submit Your Renewal Application? Your CDA is valid for three years from the award date so it is very important for you to renew your CDA Credential before it expires to remain an active CDA. The Council must receive your application by the expiration date to be accepted. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions or extensions. If your CDA Credential expires, you will have to reapply to obtain a new credential. Candidates should submit their renewal application on or before their expiration date.Candidates can submit their renewal application up to 6 months before their expiration date. CDA Renewal Requirements: Complete 45 hours of continuing education or training courses in the setting of your original credential (Training taken after the issue date, not older than 5 years) Choose an early childhood education (ECE) professional to complete your recommendation Achieve First Aid and Infant/Child (Pediatric) CPR certification Work with young children in the setting of your original credential Join or renew your membership in a national or local early childhood professional organization SafeGard Classes Online CDA Training Packages One of the key elements of the credential program is the requirement for 120 hours of continued education training or 45 hours for the renewal.  That's where SafeGard Classes Online can help!  As an IACET Accredited Provider and Partner to the CDA Council, your can be assured our classes meet the high-standards required for the Credentials.  You will also earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for all classes. We offer numerous training packages to meet your needs: Intial CDA Earning your initial CDA requires completing 120 hours of early childhood education training, with at least 10 hours in each of the 8 CDA subject areas: CDA Subject Areas Planning a safe and healthy learning environment Advancing children's physical and intellectual development Supporting children's social and emotional development Building productive relationships with families Managing an effective program operation Maintaining a commitment to professionalism Observing and recording children's behavior Understanding principles of child development and learning Additionally, the training needs to be specific to your chosen CDA setting (i.e., infant/toddler, preschool or family child care). While that might seem intimidating, fret not--we've got you covered!  Our 120 hour packages contain pre-selected classes with at least 10 hours of training in each of these areas.  You can select from 3 different packages, each specific to your CDA settting: 120 hrs: Pre-selected 80 hours + You Choose 40 hours - this option provides the required courses in each of the CDA Subject Areas plus 40 hours of classes that you can choose from our wide range of classes. 120 hrs: Pre-selected for CDA Setting Type - this package contains the best selection of classes to meet both the CDA Subject Area requirements as well as being specific to your chosen setting type. 120 hrs: Pay-As-You-Go - this 3-part package helps you manage your budget by paying at your pace.  Like our other packages, it contains the best selection of classes to meet both the CDA Subject Area requirements as well as being specific to your chosen setting type. 80 hrs: Pre-selected for 8 CDA Subject Areas - if you already have at least 40 hours of training, you can select this package which offers 10 hours of classes in each of the 8 CDA Subject Areas, also specific to your CDA setting type. Renewal CDA You'll need to renew your CDA every 3 years to keep your skills fresh and stay updated on the latest child development theories and practices. For the CDA renewal, there are several required steps, including completing 45 hours of early childhood education specific to your CDA setting type.  We offer 2 training packages for the renewal: 45 hrs: Pre-selected for CDA Setting Type - this packages has 45 hours of classes chosen specifically for each CDA setting type and to supplement the initial CDA curriculum. 45 hrs: You Choose Classes - if you'd like to select your own classes, this will allow you to customize 45 hours of classes specific to your unique needs.  You can choose from a wide range of classes in topics from Autism to Working with Humor. So, depending on your needs, we've got a package that's best for you.  Our CDA Training page has more details about each of these packages. Get started growing your career today!

  • The Full Scoop on the New Requirements for WA State Providers

    The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) has issued new WACs (Washington Administrative Code) to take effect August 2019.  These new WACS focus on the qualifications and training requirements for Washington State child care providers (see WAC 110-300-0100 for more detailed information). While there are still a few final details that need to be ironed out, here is some basic information about the new requirements and what they mean for WA State child care providers. We know how precious time and resources are for child care providers and SG Classes Online will continue to provide up-to-date information from the DCYF and offer new ways to help you meet these new requirements. Professional Development, Training and Requirements: Qualifications (WAC 110-300-0100) The new qualifications for staff are broken down into 3 levels of "stackable" certificates: 1. Initial certificate (12 credits) 2. ECE Short Certificate (20 total with credits from previous level) 3. ECE State certificate (47-52 total with credits from previous level) The new requirements will be effective August 2019 but the DCYF is allowing providers 5 years to meet these new qualifications. While college courses are an option, there are many other options for earning the credits to meet the certificate requirements, including earning your Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. There are many benefits to earning a CDA: The CDA is a nationally-recognized credential (not just WA State) Earning your CDA is significantly cheaper than 12 credits through a college (less than $700 for the CDA compared to $1200+ for college courses) Our CDA classes are all online so you can take them anytime, anywhere The process is self-paced so you can work at your convenience Our classes are STARS-approved so your CDA classes will earn STARS hours as well and you will be eligible for reimbursement up to $250 per year for these classes too The CDA is a multi-step process that includes 120 hours of training in early childhood education.  We've got discounted training packages to help you get started.  Please contact us for more information about these discounts: For 1-4 staff: $259 each for the 120 hour (12 Credits) CDA training package For 5-9 staff: $229 each for the 120 hour (12 Credits) CDA training package For 10+ staff: $199 each for the 120 hour (12 Credits) CDA training package Our classes are also 100% online and accessible on any device, including phones and tablets.  And there are even more benefits: Classes are available in your account immediately after ordering--no waiting for enrollment to begin! You can start and stop your classes as often as you need to take care of the inevitable interruption! Our classes never expire so you can take them at your convenience.  You can even access the classes after completing so you can review the information at any time. You'll receive your certificate of completion online immediately after finishing each class. No mailing, no waiting, no hassles! Training (WAC 110-300-0100) 1. Pre-Service Training (WAC 110-300-0105) The pre-service requirements include licensing orientation, a TB test and a background check for anyone who is authorized to care for or have unsupervised access to children in early learning programs. 2. Training Requirements (WAC 110-300-0106) The new training requirements are similar to previous requirements.  While there are some courses that are required by all, some positions have specific training that needs to be completed. SG Classes Online offers the initial 30 Hour Child Care Basics course as well as the required Bloodborne Pathogens and HIV/AIDS training classes. The Safe Sleep course offered by the DCYF can be accessed at www.dcyftraining.com. 3. In-Service Training (WAC 110-300-0107) All early learning professionals except volunteers must complete 10 hours of in-service training annually. Hours are calculated using the department's fiscal year – July 1-June 30.  A minimum of one hour each year must be in health and safety topics to meet federal requirements. We have over 200 STARS-approved courses as well as many discounted 10-hour STARS packages to help you meet your annual STARS requirement.  We'll also post all your completed courses to your Merit account for you. The DCYF will also be introducing a new course on Enhancing Quality of Early Learning that will become part of the in-service requirement. FOUNDATIONAL QUALITY STANDARDS FOR EARLY LEARNING PROGRAMS (WAC 110-300): There are other changes to the WACs as well.  Watch this video about the changes to Immunizations and Others.  Additionally, the DCYF has events and learning opportunities to assist in getting informaton about the updates. For more information, here are some additional resources: How to Earn Your CDA Credentials FAQs About the New Requirements DCYF Newsletters and Webinars WAC FAQ's Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning Programs Guidebook (English) Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning Programs Guidebook (Spanish) Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning Programs Guidebook (Somali) Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning Programs Guidebook (Russian)

  • How to Get Reimbursed for STARS Training

    Good news!  If you've taken STARS-approved in-service child care training classes as a Washington State child care provider, you're eligible for reimbursement of your class fees up to $250 each year!  The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF, formerly DEL) provides eligible child care providers the opportunity for reimbursement for approved classes through their MERIT system (Managed Education and Registry Information Tool). Here are the requirements for reimbursement: 1. Reimbursement is for annual in-service training requirements (10 hours). Other training requirements including CPR, First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogens and HIV/AIDS are not eligible for reimbursement. 2. You need to have a MERIT account with a STARS ID.  Click on the MERIT account link to get started. Your MERIT account will also include verification that you're currently employed in a licensed facility. 3. You may only apply for reimbursement up to $250 once each fiscal year (July 1 - June 30).  Keep this in mind as you're planning to meet your training requirements. 4. The training must be completed through a STARS-approved trainer within the previous 12 months.  All of SafeGard Classes Online's child care classes are approved by DCYF/DEL for STARS credit (with the exception of CPR, First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogens, HIV/AIDS and Safe Sleep since these are not considered in-service training). 5. If you complete your classes through SafeGard Classes Online, we will add your completed classes to your Merit account for you. Please be sure to add your STARS ID # in your account in the State Registry ID box on the My Profile tab. For more information, please go to the DCYF/DEL's training reimbursement page.

  • The 4 Key Steps for a Crisis Management Plan

    While we may not be able to foresee a coming crisis, we can overcome it with the right preparation and handling of the situation. This isn’t something we typically think about on a regular basis (or likely even want to think about) but by making this a regularly scheduled agenda item at staff meetings or planning meetings, it will become second-nature and ensure everyone is prepared should the worst happen. Don't worry about creating the "perfect" plan.  No matter how much time you spend, these events will always throw something at us we never anticipated.  Who would have thought a virus could shut down the entire world?  The important thing is to at least get a basic plan in place and consider the critical elements: Emergency plan - This will help you prepare the supplies, materials and procedures you'd need in the event of an emergency.  Creating an emergency plan requires a lot of “what if” thinking and preparing.  Consider the different types of crises you may encounter.  Each one would require a different response and likely different resources.  Your state licensing agency likely has specific requirements to prepare for emergencies as well. In the event of a natural disaster, supplies such as food, water and medical supplies will be critical.  Depending on the severity and range of the issue, you may need to think about meeting the needs of your children and staff for a longer period of time.  This not only requires being prepared with specific supplies and materials for survival but also having plans for the business, as described below.  Because of the complexity of needs for various disasters and specific state requirements, please refer to our courses on disaster preparedness and the links at the end of this course for detailed information about how to be prepared for a emergency. Business continuity plan – How will your business continue?  Who is in charge and making decisions?  How will you manage all your records and files?  A continuity plan should address how the business will move forward during a crisis. Consider the children, staff, families, facilities, supplies and materials and your intellectual property (records and files).  Be prepared to manage these during a crisis.  For example, if a fire destroyed the computers, how would you recover your records? Your business insurance agent can often help with continuity planning.  These are often things no one thinks about until a crisis hits and may be things that are unrecoverable if not properly managed. Communication plan - To say that it would be impossible to overcommunicate during crisis would probably be an understatement.  Think about how we all felt during the COVID crisis: scared, uncertain, frustrated.  Even if you don’t have all the answers, honest and open communication can still be very comforting. Your communication plan should address all stakeholders: Children Staff/Organization Families (existing and new potentials) Community The plan should include the type and frequency of communications.  What needs to go to the families and how often?  How do we keep in touch with our staff?  How do we let new families know about the status of our business? Utilize technology to help you.  Tools as simple as email, group text, social media and many apps can help streamline communication. Be open and honest about the situation.  People realize we may not always have the answer to every question but they like to know what is happening and what they can expect.  Continue to communicate throughout the situation and keep stakeholders in the loop as appropriate. Keep in mind that children’s needs will be different.  Communicate what is age appropriate and be available to them as they process the situation.  They need to know that adults will keep them safe and will provide for their needs. Recovery plan - Finally, you’re out of the crisis and on the way to rebuilding!  What does that look like?  Your business may need to adapt to a new environment.  Depending on the scope of the crisis, you may face different elements of recovery:l Physical – there may be structural issues to address with the facility.  How would you handle major damage to your building? Financial – does insurance cover the damage?  How do you rebuild your finances? Reputational – what caused the issue and how do you regain the trust of families and the community? Emotional – you many need to address emotional trauma as well, with the children, staff and families. As you can see, the planning process can rather intense but don’t put it off just because it seems overwhelming.  Take one step at a time and build out our each plan as completely as possible.  Most importantly, once it’s done, don’t put it on a shelf to gather dust.  Bring it out and review often.  Even the best plans are useless if they are not followed.

  • Discounts on Tools and Training for Child Care Programs

    SG Classes Online has partnered with Sandbox Software to offer a discounted package on great tools to help you management your childcare program bundled with online childcare training classes to help you meet your continuing education requirements. What's the deal? When you sign up for an annual subscription of Sandbox, you receive the first 3 months for free and 100 hours of online childcare classes for only $99 ($79 for each additional user). This offer expires on Friday, December 13th. Sandbox Software helps childcare educators manage and simplify their program with the power of an all-in-one tool to manage registration, staffing, family information, parent engagement and so much more. SG Classes Online offers over 200 online childcare courses in a wide range of topics, including behavior management, child development, health & safety and many more.  Classes can be accessed on any device, including phones and tablets, and are immediately available after ordering,  No waiting for classes to begin or assignments to be mailed--everything is available on your online account! How do I get started? This bundled package is a limited time only so act now to get all the tools and training you need to build and grow your childcare program!

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