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IFF partners to support professional development for child care providers in New Jersey
May 22, 2018
By: Katherine Prull '19
In New Jersey, over 400,000 children under the age of five need some form of child care because both of their parents work and close to 50% of mothers with children under the age of three are employed outside of the home, according to the U.S. Census. Caregivers are among the most influential relationships in a young child’s life. They have the ability to foster healthy growth and development among babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
The first three years of a child's life are critical for cognitive, emotional, and physical developmental that shape foundation that support growth into no only their school age years, but also his or her early adolescent and adult lives. Brain development is exceptionally rapid during this period of a child's life. The building blocks of language and literacy are established and set the stage for lifelong learning. 
To address the quality of care offered by child care providers, New Jersey Department of Human Services is leading, Grow NJ Kids, a quality rating and improvement initiative to raise the level of care in programs throughout New Jersey while also offering parents a rating system that allows them to make the best child care choices.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services works with Rutgers School of Social Work's Institute for Families (IFF) to assist in managing and coordinating professional development for the early child care workforce who participate in the program.
"Our role is to provide the training that helps build the knowledge and skills required of the child care professionals who participate in Grow NJ Kids," says Theresa McCutcheon, Director of the Institute for Families.  "Our investments in very young children pay off, particularly for children who are living in poverty or don’t otherwise have access to a stable, nurturing caregiver, High-quality early childhood experiences are not only linked to literacy development and later educational success readiness, but also to lower high school dropout rates, and lower crime rates. These issues come with a high human and financial cost.  And, the returns are greatest among our most at-risk children."
A wide array of in-person and online training courses guide professionals in applying evidence-based classroom curricula, utilizing environmental rating scales, and fostering developmental milestones for children in their care.  Nutan Rubinson, who guides training services for early care and learning programs enrolled in Grow NJ Kids explains, “Classes are offered at different times within locations throughout the state. The program is extended to directors, teachers, assistant teachers, aides, and support staff.”
To learn more about the Grow NJ Kids initiatives or find a participating program near you, please visit:
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