LEARNING — Some 2,000 early childhood professionals participate in Best Care training each year. (U of A Division of Agriculture System File Photo)

Best Care Training, a professional development course that reaches thousands of Arkansas child care professionals each year, will be offered virtually and in person in 2022. Family and Consumer Science Officers from The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture System plans to hold 35 Best Care trainings from January to May of this year.

“Best Care is an important resource for child care providers and families because it connects trusted research with the adoption of best practices in personal development and early childhood,” said Rebecca Simon , associated with the Early Childhood and Family Life Program at the University of Arkansas System Division. of Agriculture.

Best Care is offered free statewide through the division’s Cooperative Extension Service in partnership with the Arkansas Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. The program began in 1997 as a pilot program and has been funded by the Arkansas DCCECE since 1999. The program also receives funding from the Arkansas Better Chance Program of the Arkansas Department of Education.

The training provides professional development to about 2,000 child care professionals each year, Simon said.

“Best Care is designed to provide early childhood professionals with training opportunities that keep them up to date on the subject and methods to help them become more effective educators,” Simon said. “Best Care provides ten hours of high-quality, research-based education that addresses the four areas of the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum: child development, consumer economics, health and nutrition. »

Simon explained that Best Care is taught in a multi-county setting, called “clusters,” with 26 clusters statewide.

“What’s unique about Best Care is that it’s offered statewide using the county’s network of family and consumer science agents, who serve as contacts for needs. early childhood training in their county or cluster,” said Simon. “Child care providers are beginning to call their counties in November and December to ask about the Best Care training available in their communities due to the long-term success of the program. The program is developed at the state level, but the success of the program is really due to FCS officers across the state and their reputation at the county level as the go-to person for annual training.

“Best Care can also be a way to network and promote other county programs that would benefit child care providers,” she said.

In 2021, Best Care provided professional development to 1,300 early childhood professionals. The course was available in an online format through courses.uada.edu, and it was also delivered virtually in three or four multi-county “clusters,” with some courses delivered in person in late spring and early September. summer.

This year, four virtual trainings are planned and the others should take place in person. The move from in-person to virtual classes is decided as needed as COVID numbers progress, Simon said.

Best Care training topics for this year include Growing Young Gardeners, Healthy Habits: Nutrition and Fitness Practices, STEAM in Outdoor Learning, Infant Care and Self-Regulation, When Accidents Happen: Basic First Aid, Child Care Prepared: Disaster Preparedness, Music in Early Learning, clean sweeping, effective communication and playground safety.

Anyone interested in Best Care training should contact their local Family and Consumer Science agent at uaex.uada.edu/counties/ for information on upcoming trainings offered in their area. For more information on early childhood professional development opportunities in Arkansas, visit uaex.uada.edu/life-skills-wellness/child-care-providers/.

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Agriculture Division research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

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