April 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 2 // Research in Brief // 2RIB4

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An Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Team Approach to Delivery of Childcare Provider Training

An evaluation of an interdisciplinary team approach to the delivery of childcare provider training revealed that the team was successful in increasing participant knowledge in four key content areas of childcare. Participants increased their overall childcare knowledge by 29% from pre- to post-test. Paired t-test results on 16 separate tests representing 586 cases indicated that a statistically significant change at the .05 level occurred on all 16 content areas as a result of the educational intervention. The team approach, with its developed materials including pre- and post-test measures, can serve as a model for other collaborative efforts by Extension educators.

Rick Peterson,
Extension Specialist, Human Development
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, Virginia
Internet address: rpetersn@vt.edu

Janet Prillaman,
Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Amherst, Virginia


Quality childcare has become an important national issue. As a response to this critical issue, the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) has undertaken a new national childcare initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase the quality, affordability, accessibility, and sustainability of childcare programs through federal, state, and local partnerships that tap the expertise and assets of local communities. Virginia Cooperative Extension has been conducting childcare provider training opportunities under its childcare objective, which is to educate individuals, families, and childcare providers to gain knowledge, develop skills, and implement caregiving practices based on child development theory and best practices to improve the quality of the caregiving environment for children.

Local Need

The Virginia Department of Social Services Division of Licensing (VADSS) requires state DSS licensed center-based childcare providers to attend 8 hours of training annually, in addition to First Aid training and center orientation (VADSS, 1998). State licensed home-based childcare providers are required to attend 6 hours of training annually, in addition to First Aid training, including rescue breathing and choking (VADSS, 1993). There is no uniform training requirement for local DSS agency-approved home care providers, though some individual local DSS agencies are requiring a minimum of 2 hours of training or strongly encouraging training for unregulated providers who receive agency funds for providing childcare.

The Virginia Department of Social Services Piedmont Region Licensing Specialist cites the need for training of childcare providers, both center-based and home-based, in the areas of general environmental safety, playground safety, child development, age-appropriate activities, behavior management, and the signs of abuse and neglect. The Virginia Department of Social Services Piedmont Region Day Care Coordinator states the need for training of childcare providers in caring for children with behavior problems.

The Council of Community Services KARE Line childcare resource and referral agency survey of requested training needs are (by topic):

  • First Aid/CPR
  • Age Appropriate Activities
  • Discipline and Behavior Management
  • Recreational Activities
  • Healthy and Safety
  • Tax Prep and Record Keeping
  • Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Communicating with Parents
  • Nutrition

Evaluations from the March 21, 1998 Extension sponsored "Potpourri for Providers" workshop requested training in the following areas:

  • Topics for Home Providers
  • Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Hands-on Projects
  • Discipline
  • Working with Parents
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Infants and Toddlers
  • Physical Room Arrangement
  • Science Experiments
  • Literature for PreSchool

Interdisciplinary Program Delivery

In order to meet the training needs of childcare providers, Virginia Cooperative Extension Central District's Family and Human Development specialty agents sponsored a series of childcare workshops designed to increase the knowledge of childcare professionals. The interdisciplinary teaching team consisted of Family and Consumer Science, 4-H/Youth Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources agents.

The educational goals based on the identified training needs were to increase knowledge in 1.) childcare management, 2.) child development, 3.) health and safety, and 4.) professional development. To accomplish this, 16 different content workshops were developed by the team and offered to participants. The workshops included training in the following categories:

  • Child Care Management
  • Learning Through Play
  • The Peaceful Classroom
  • Child Development
  • Reading to Children
  • Building Resilient Children I
  • Building Resilient Children II
  • Exploring the Great Outdoors
  • Developmentally Age Appropriate Activities
  • Brain Development
  • Health and Safety
  • CPR
  • Food Safety
  • Eggstravaganza
  • Food Production
  • Children's Nutrition
  • Professional Development
  • Stress Management
  • Time Management
  • Child Care Ethical Dilemmas

Program Delivery

Program delivery involved an interdisciplinary team of agents representing Family and Consumer Science, 4-H/Youth Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. Each team member was required to develop a research-based educational program to meet the needs of childcare professionals and to include pre- and post-test measures to assess the knowledge gain of the participants. The enrollment in the program was open to childcare professionals for a minimal fee of $5-$23.

A total of 171 childcare providers attended the trainings. Individuals completed workshops in one to four content areas per childcare provider training, totaling 586 cases. Participants were administered pre-tests at the beginning of each session and post-tests at the end of each session. At the conclusion of the program, participants received a certificate indicating their completion of the educational programs and documenting the number of training hours earned. Upon verification of participation in the educational programs, Continuing Education units certified by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University were mailed to participants upon request.

Technique of Data Analysis

Frequencies were run on each test question to determine the change between pre- and post-test scores. Analysis and feedback regarding mean scores of test items will assist the test creators in selecting and improving test-retest questions for future trainings.

A paired-samples t-test was used to analyze the data. A paired- samples test compares sample means by calculating Student's t and test the significance of the difference between the means (Ott, 1993). In this study, pre- and post-test scores for childcare providers were compared.


The results of the test question frequencies reveal that some test questions might need to be changed or improved. For example, the pre-test mean score on Learning Through Play, item # 1, was 92%, while the post-test score was 94%. This result indicates that the question may not be a good discriminator of knowledge and may need to be changed or that a new question should be created that would better discriminate knowledge gained due to the educational intervention. Each test item was analyzed, and feedback to the test creator was furnished.

Sixteen different pre- and post-test childcare content areas were analyzed. Results of the analysis indicate that participants increased their childcare knowledge overall by 29%. Pre-test scores increased from 56% correct answers to post-test scores of 85% correct answers. In addition, paired t-tests on the 16 separate tests representing 586 cases at the .05 level of significance were administered to detect statistically significant differences between the pre and post-tests. The results indicate that a statistically significant change in childcare training knowledge occurred on all 16 content areas as a result of the educational intervention.

More specifically, in the area of Professional Development, participants improved their pre-test scores by 28% from an average of 58% on pre-test to 86% on post-test. Scores on Childcare Management improved from a pre-test average of 74% to a post-test average of 91%, an increase of 17%. Health and Safety saw a 34% increase in participant knowledge gain, from average pre-test scores of 48% to post-test scores of 88%. Increased knowledge in Child Development was also evident. Scores on the pre-tests averaged 48%, while the post-tests scores averaged 80%, a 32% change.


The key to quality childcare is a well-trained provider. The results of the study reveal that childcare providers increased their knowledge substantially in four key childcare content training areas and that the difference was statistically significant at the .05 level. The program's success was due to establishing the educational need of childcare providers and to the involvement of the interdisciplinary team concept, in which agents from Family and Consumer Science, 4- H/Youth Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources assisted in program development and delivery. The training successfully met the educational needs of childcare providers in the district. The interdisciplinary concept proved to be a successful method to deliver programs and could serve as a model for other Extension professionals.

Furthermore, the analysis of each test item will improve the content of the pre- and post-tests by allowing the test creator to improve the test items and better discriminate potential knowledge gain by participants. Once the improvements are made, the 16 childcare content training areas with pre- and post-test measures could be utilized by other districts within Virginia Cooperative Extension.


Ott, R., L. (1993). An introduction to statistical methods and data analysis. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Virginia Department of Social Services Division of Licensing. Minimum Standards for Licensed Family Day Homes, (1993). Standard 2.6.

Virginia Department of Social Services Division of Licensing. Minimum Standards for Licensed Child Care Centers. (1998). Standard 22VAC15-30-310C.