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Position 9: Head of Group (Preparation Level 2)

Definition: This position fulfills the role of teacher in child care and education programs, including Head Start. The Head of Group (Child Care Teacher) is responsible for day-to-day operation of the classroom including physical environment, curriculum planning and implementation, supervision/ evaluation of each child, record keeping, and supervision of other staff including volunteers.

Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions: The Head of Group has knowledge of history, mathematics and science which is the basis for providing an integrated, active learning environment for preschool children. Knowledge of child development, health, safety, and nutrition contribute to the children's well-being and a knowledge of the arts provides an expressive dimension. The Head of Group uses good speaking and listening skills to communicate and help children develop communication skills including literacy activities. Critical thinking, problem solving and techniques of child management are important in the classroom of preschoolers. The Head of Group requires a talent for working with young children, appreciation for all kinds of families and cultures, respect for the family as the child's first teacher, and willingness to work as a partner with the family.

Employment Settings: Child Care and education programs including Group Family Child Care (See SECTION II, SETTINGS A, D) Even Start and Head Start (See SECTION II, SETTING C).

Required Qualifications: the New York State Office for Children and Family Services sets requirements for Head of Group in licensed early childhood settings outside the City of New York. Progress such as Even Start which may be licensed as a child care center may require additional qualifications.

Preschoolers - Associates degree in early childhood, child development or related field OR Child Development Associate Credential or 9 college credits in early childhood, child development or a related field AND 2 years experience related to caring for children (NYSOCFS 418.1.13 (g)).

Infants and toddlers - In addition to above, 1 year of specific training and/or experience in infant or toddler care which may be demonstrated by obtaining an Infant Toddler Child Care Credential (NYSOCFS 418-1.13 (g)).

School-aged children - Associates degree in Child Development, recreation or related field and no additional experience required OR High School Diploma or its equivalent AND two years direct experience working with children under 13 years of age.

  • In New York City, the Department of Health licenses and regulates programs. New York City Head of Group Qualifications Licensed by the City Board of Education as a teacher in early childhood classes and has completed at least one hundred and fifty (150) clock hours of observation and supervised practice teaching in prekindergarten or kindergarten grades OR NYS Early Childhood Teacher Certification OR NYS Childhood Prekindergarten-6 or Childhood Teacher Certification with 300 clock hours of observation and supervised practice teaching with at least (150) in prekindergarten or Kindergarten grads and 30 semester hours of study in professional education including one semester in sociological, philosophical or historical foundations of education, and two one-semester courses in educational developmental psychology, at least one of which will be in child development and three one-semester courses in instructional methods and materials including instruction in teaching the basic skills at least one of which shall be on the prekindergarten or kindergarten level and a one semester course in parent education and community relations. OR Has a plan for meeting the requirements specified in the first three options limited above within a reasonable time, submitted to Department.

Note: Preschool teachers who work in nursery or preschools outside of New York City (see SECTION II, SETTING D) are not under New York State child care licensing regulations and therefore may have no qualification requirements. Individual programs may have their own qualification requirements. It is desirable that persons working in this position have the knowledge, skills and dispositions and follow the same qualifications as above.

Preparation: Heads of Group should have an Associate's degree or higher. Many associate degree colleges across the state offer degrees to prepare for the position of Head of Group. These courses may be listed under Early Childhood, Child Development, Human Services, or Child Care. The New York State Teacher certification in early childhood, birth through Grade 2 also prepares people for this position. (See SECTION V, PREPARING TO LEARN B. HIGHER EDUCATION for college information.) Typical coursework includes general education, child development, planning appropriate learning environments and activities for children, supervised field experience.

Continuing Education: For individuals working in settings licensed by NYS, fifteen hours of training must be received during the first six months of employment with 30 hours completed within the first two years of employment and 30 hours every two years thereafter. Training must address the following topics:

  1. Principles of child development, including the appropriate supervision of children, meeting the needs of children enrolled in the program with physical or emotional challenges and behavior management and discipline.
  2. Nutrition and health needs of children
  3. Child day care program development
  4. Safety and security procedures, including communication between parents and staff
  5. Business record maintenance and management
  6. Child abuse and maltreatment identification and prevention
  7. Statutes and regulations pertaining to child day care
  8. Statutes and regulations pertaining to child abuse and maltreatment.

Alternate Pathways: People with extensive experience in the classroom as assistants to the head of group may obtain a CDA-Child Development Associate (See SECTION V, PREPARING TO LEARN B. CREDENTIALS.)

Job Outlook: The need for child care workers is projected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2008 because of high turnover and job growth. Also changing perceptions of pre-primary education may lead to increased public and private spending on early childhood. Qualified persons interested in this work should have little trouble finding a job.

Earnings: The earnings of the Head of Group position vary greatly depending on setting (family child care, center-based child care, preschools, Head Start etc), hours worked (some programs are only part day and do not pay benefits), number and ages of the children, and the geographic location. New York State wages in 2000 ranged between $16,182 and $26,956. Examples of typical salaries include:

Child Care Workers (outside NYC) $16,240
Preschool Teachers $22,680
Head Start Teachers (outside NYC) $24,417
NYC contracted Head Start and childcare starting salaries $34,400; after 10 years $35,700
NYC Board of Education starting salaries $36,000; after 10 years $51,000

Opportunity for Advancement: Advancing from classroom Head of Group to Program Director is possible in a child care program. See Director (SEE POSITION 6).

Moving from the child care setting into a public school position will increase income but has different qualifications (outside of NYC) which may require additional coursework and licensure. (See NYS CERTIFIED TEACHER POSITION 4)

Related Careers:

Serving Children Directly – In-home caregiver (nanny/governess), tutor, recreation leader, museum educator, camp counselor, cottage parent, family/group family child care provider

Serving Families Directly – Family resource worker, home visitor, parent educator, home care aide, child welfare worker

Providing Information Goods and Services – Resource and referral worker, children's product designer, sales, writer/author, trainer, and service agency educator.