Competency Frameworks for Infant and Toddler Teachers and Caregivers

Publication Date: October 31, 2019
Competency Frameworks for Infant and Toddler Teachers and Caregivers Cover

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  • Published: 2020


Research Questions

  1. What competency frameworks have been developed for I/T teachers and caregivers?
  2. Who are the target audiences for the competency frameworks?
  3. What content is included in the competency frameworks (e.g., types of competencies, proficiency levels, domains, etc.)?

The Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies (ITTCC) project conducted a scan of competency frameworks relevant to teaching and caregiving of infants and toddlers (I/T) in group (center-based and family child care) settings.

The scan identified 58 frameworks relevant to I/T teachers and caregivers.


Identifying the competencies essential to I/T teaching and caregiving may offer a common language and lens for assessing job performance and provide a clear structure for professional growth and development.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • 29 frameworks include competencies specific to I/T care and education and another 29 frameworks include competencies more broadly for the care and education of children from birth to age 5.
  • 51 frameworks were developed by state agencies or organizations for use in a particular state.
  • 29 frameworks describe alignment with other frameworks or standards. Most commonly:
    • The National Association of the Education of Young Children Standards for Initial and Advanced Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs
    • The Child Development Associate Competency Standards
    • The Division for Early Childhood Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education
  • 41 frameworks include competencies for different levels of advancement or career stages.


An Internet search identified competency frameworks relevant to I/T teaching and caregiving in group (center-based and family child care) settings. Identified competency frameworks and associated documentation were reviewed and coded.


Caronongan, P.K., K. Niland, M. Manley, S. Atkins-Burnett, and E. Moiduddin (2019). Competency frameworks for infant and toddler teachers and caregivers. OPRE Report # 2019-95, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


a piece of knowledge, a skill, or an attribute essential to the practice of teaching and caring for infants and toddlers.
Competency framework:
a compilation of competencies intended to convey the range of knowledge, skills, and attributes essential to a particular area of practice, job, or profession.
Competency domain:
competency frameworks often group competencies (that is, KSAs) by domain. That is, individual KSAs focused on a similar topic may be clustered within a framework by competency domain. Examples of a competency domains include “support for language and literacy,” “support for social-emotional development,” “health and safety,” “working with families,” or “arts and creativity.”
Proficiency levels:
Some competency frameworks identify competencies (that is, KSAs) that are essential for practice at various career stages (for example, entry, mid-career, advanced).
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