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Childcare Specialist Certificate Program with Externship

Program includes National Certification & an Externship Opportunity

The Childcare Profession

Childcare Specialists are responsible for caring for children when parents or other family members are unavailable.  Quality childcare is a useful and necessary alternative for many working parents where full- or part-time care allows them to continue their professional pursuits.  Childcare professionals who not only provide constant care, but who also have an understanding of early childhood education and who can recognize potential emotional distress or developmental issues provide parents the peace of mind they need to ensure their child’s needs are met even when they can’t be there throughout the day.  Childcare specialists work in large childcare centers, preschools and public schools or may also work in the home caring for one or multiple children at a time.  For any individual with the special gifts and talents necessary to connect with young children, working as a professional in this field with the ability to create and foster an educational/developmental environment provides a rewarding career that projected to grow 14% to 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The Childcare Specialist Program

This program introduces the historical, theoretical and developmental foundations for educating and caring for young children.  With particular emphasis on caring for children from birth through age 8, this program takes students through a range of topics including the roles, responsibilities and requirements of individuals working in early childhood settings, current issues that have implications on children, families and early childhood professionals, and age-related developmental accomplishments.  Alongside ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all children in their care, this program will ensure students have a firm grasp on the educational and developmental needs of young children in order to create a stimulating, nurturing and fun environment for all children in their care. 

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the roles, responsibilities, and requirements for those who work in early childhood education (ECE) settings and the evolution of the field of ECE
  • Analyze current issues in ECE that have implications for children, families, and society
  • Describe the age-related developmental accomplishments of young children from birth through age 8 in each of the developmental domains
  • Analyze programs that support individual differences, culturally responsive, and inclusive
  • Analyze ECE standards as related to preparing developmentally appropriate activities
  • Analyze practices that ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all children
  • Compare a variety of guidance strategies to help children develop emotional self-regulation and avoid challenging behaviors
  • Describe strategies that foster childcare worker and family partnerships
  • Describe the role of assessment/documentation to inform curriculum development and improve care, child outcomes, and early childhood program quality
  • Evaluate the attributes of professionalism in ECE including advocacy, and social justice


  • Explain the mission and purpose of the early childhood professional
  • Describe the various roles of professionals in the field of early childhood education
  • Explain education expectations for those working in various roles in the field of early childhood education
  • Describe the unique characteristics of various early childhood settings including family child care, center-based care and education (public and private), infant/toddler care, Head Start, public pre-kindergarten, primary grades, and after-school care


  • Describe contributions of historical figures to the field of early childhood education
  • Compare the various theories of child development
  • Compare the various learning theories
  • Explain characteristics of early childhood program models


  • Identify current issues in early childhood education
  • Describe the current trends in early childhood education in terms of their impact on children, families, and early childhood professionals
  • Analyze the implications of research on early childhood education


  • Describe the characteristics of children ages zero through age eight in each developmental domain
  • Describe the typical age-related developmental accomplishments for each age group, including infants and toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners, and children in the primary grades
  • Explain how knowledge of child development impacts care and education of infants and toddlers
  • Explain how knowledge of child development impacts teaching for preschoolers
  • Explain how knowledge of child development impacts teaching of children in kindergarten
  • Explain how knowledge of child development impacts teaching of children in the primary grades


  • Explain the concept of developmentally appropriate practices
  • Explain how DAP considers the age-related developmental characteristics of young children
  • Explore how DAP addresses individual differences
  • Describe how DAP is responsive to social and cultural contexts
  • Apply developmentally appropriate teaching practices to learning in the developmental domains
  • Describe how DAP influence the arrangement of the learning environment
  • Critique the application of DAP to the early childhood education environment
  • Explain the role of play in developmentally appropriate environments


  • Describe early childhood education inclusive practices
  • Analyze early childhood education interpersonal environments that are responsive to cultural, linguistic, and individual needs
  • Analyze early childhood education physical environments that are responsive to cultural, linguistic, and individual needs
  • Explain the terminology in special education


  • Describe the various standards that promote recommended practices
  • Explain how program quality standards impact curriculum development
  • Explain how the developmental domains and knowledge of content areas relate to curriculum development
  • Describe the characteristics of effective curriculum
  • Explain how intentional teachers plan and implement curriculum


  • Describe practices that promote health, good nutrition, and cleanliness in early childhood settings
  • Analyze the qualities of early childhood environments that promote safety in indoor and outdoor settings
  • Explain practices that promote the health, safety, and well-being of all children
  • Justify the role of play in healthful development and learning


  • Explain the guidance strategies that facilitate appropriate behavior in early childhood
  • Identify how individual guidance strategies impact specific behaviors in children
  • Determine how to use a variety of guidance strategies in the early childhood education classroom
  • Promote practices that support the development of self-regulation skills
  • Determine the effectiveness of early childhood environments in promoting appropriate behavior and reducing inappropriate behavior of children


  • Describe diverse family structures and impacts on family life that challenge children's learning
  • Describe the benefits of creating positive relationships and meaningful family involvement
  • Describe types of effective communication techniques for involving families in early childhood programs
  • Explain the role of the early childhood education teacher in connecting families to community resources


  • Describe the different approaches used to assess young children
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages for various types of assessments in early childhood
  • Explain the positive contributions of documenting assessment results to teaching and learning
  • Explain how assessment findings shape decision making and influence teaching, learning, and early childhood program quality


  • Explain what it means to be an ECE professional: ethical conduct and using evidence-based practices
  • Describe the role of advocacy in the field of ECE
  • Explain ways early childhood professionals can contribute the development of policies that impact early childhood education
  • Explain what it means to be a culturally competent early childhood professional

Note: This program can be completed in 6 months. However, students will have online access to this program for a 24-month period.

Education and National Certifications

  • Students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED.
  • There are several National Certification exams that are available to students who successfully complete this program:
    • National Career Certification Board (NCCB) Certified Child Care Worker (CCCW) Certification Exam

National Certification

Upon successful completion of this Auburn University program, students would be eligible to sit for the National Career Certification Board (NCCB) Certified Child Care Worker (CCCW) Certification Exam. Students who complete this program are encouraged to complete the externship option with their program. Students who complete this program can and do sit for the national certification exam and are qualified, eligible and prepared to do so.Auburn University works with each student to complete the exam application and register the student to take their national certification exam.

Externship / Hands on Training / Practicum

Although not a requirement, once students complete the program, they have the ability to participate in an externship and/or hands on practicum so as to practice the skills necessary to perform the job requirements of a professional in this field. Students will be assisted with completing a resume and/or other requirements necessary to work in this field.  All students who complete this program are eligible to participate in an externship and will be placed with a participating organization near their location.  Auburn University works with national organizations and has the ability to place students in externship opportunities nationwide.

Note: No refunds can be issued after the start date published in your Financial Award document.