Childcare center directors, much like their name implies, are the head of a preschool, daycare, or other early childhood education setting. Not only do they interact with young children on a daily basis, they also coordinate and design the care program, as well as oversee the daily activities of both children and staff. In addition, childcare directors are responsible for administrative duties, such as preparing and organizing budgets, and ensuring the highest quality of instruction possible. Essentially, it is their job to make sure their school or daycare is running smoothly, and that children and their families are happy and thriving in the program. It’s a big job that requires big steps in one’s education and career – but as most childcare directors will tell you, every step is worth it.
If you are wondering how to become a childcare director in the state of Connecticut, you are in the right place – quite literally. Connecticut is ranked among the top five, highest-paying states in the U.S. for childcare directors, who get paid, on average, $61,870 per year (almost $14k higher than the national average!). Connecticut is also praised for the amount of money it spends on its students and for the number of children who attend preschool, indicating a high-quality early childhood education system.
So, where do you begin? In this article, Goodwin College walks through the various childcare director requirements, and the steps it takes to attain this personally and professionally rewarding career path.
The Building Blocks to a Childcare Director Career
- Postsecondary Education
Today, most states require childcare center directors to have at least a bachelor’s degree. In Connecticut specifically, this is the standard requirement for childcare administrators and directors. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, child development, or child study are all applicable programs – providing you with the knowledge and strategies needed to:
- Create and implement developmentally-appropriate learning environments for children
- Design and carry out meaningful curriculums for your students
- Observe and document children’s progress as they learn and grow
- Implement administrative systems to accomplish program goals, missions, and objectives
- Apply the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct to your work
- Communicate effectively and foster relationships with staff, students, families, and the greater community
And so much more. To become an early childhood administrator or childcare director in Connecticut, it is also required that you achieve three college credits in administration specific courses, as well as nine or more college credits in leadership, fiscal management, staff development, and/or family, school, and community relations. Goodwin College eases this path for aspiring childcare directors in CT by offering a specialized administrative curriculum as part of our childhood education programs. Courses include:
- Supervision and Administration in Early Childhood Programs
- Leadership in Early Childhood Education
- Human Resources Management (for hiring/staff development)
- Applied Accounting (for budget/fiscal management)
- Family-School-Community Partnerships
All of the above courses will prepare you for the Connecticut Director’s Credential (CDC), once the experiential requirements are also fulfilled (see the following section). While a bachelor’s degree is the standard requirement, you may also qualify for the CDC credential with an associate degree in early childhood education – However, this must be followed by additional college credits in the core competency areas listed above, which is why most will choose to pursue the bachelor’s degree path.
- Job Experience
Today, most childcare centers require directors to have several years of experience. Gaining experience as a childcare worker can put you on the path to becoming a director by training you in a real education setting, with real children ready to learn. To earn the CDC credential and qualify for a top-level administrative position, you must specifically complete:
- One year of supervisory experience,
- One year of full-time, supervised administrative experience, and
- One additional year of administrative experience
You can qualify for a variety of early childhood education careers – and therefore get started in working and building experience in the field – with a college degree in hand.
- Professional Certification
Childcare directors and administrators in Connecticut should pursue the Connecticut Director Credential (CDC) by fulfilling the requirements above. This credential is recognized across the state and exemplifies that you are fully competent in administration and leadership practices, as well as in working with children and helping them to thrive.
Some employers will require you to have a nationally-recognized credential, as well – such as the CDA. The CDA, standing for Child Development Associate, is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education. To earn this, you must complete formal education and training, as well as a professional portfolio and several-hundred hours of experience.
Both of the above credentials must be renewed every three years. In addition, you should pursue your CPR and first-aid certifications in order to practice as a childcare center director. Most employers will also issue a background check and complete health records, to ensure you are fit to work with children.
Skills Requirements for Childcare Directors
Childcare directors need to be able to interact with children, parents, and staff. In addition, they must know how to manage administrative duties on top of child care and curriculums. That said, a certain skillset is needed to be successful in the field. Goodwin outlines the skills requirements for childcare directors in Connecticut below, as recommended by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Business skills, and the ability to operate the school or center effectively (including budget management and allocation, enrollment, staffing and training, and more).
- Communication skills, both in terms of writing and speaking. As part of the job, directors must inform parents and staff about the progress of children.
- Interpersonal skills, so that you can develop good relationships with parents, children, and staff.
- Leadership skills, as directors are the head of the childcare programs. You must be able to lead and supervise staff, as well as inspire them to work diligently and positively. You must also be able to enforce rules and regulations, for compliance with school standards as well as for children and staff safety.
- Organizational skills, as you will be required to maintain records about children and staff.
- Ability to multi-task, as you will find in the job, several people (including children, parents, and staff, among others) will require your attention.
Get a “head start” on your career as a childcare director or administrator in Connecticut. Find out how Goodwin College can get you there. Learn about our early childhood education programs in Connecticut by calling 800-889-3282 today.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.