How to Define a Professional in Child Services?

One of the most important issues facing staff in the child services profession is the level and methods of training available to the majority of people employed in this sector. The training on offer is varied and may differ based on the level of the staff members’

education and the availability of tertiary education. The four primary areas of training that are available are: – learning from colleagues, the application of best practice services, Tertiary Education and on the job learning.

Learning From Colleagues
An essential part of any workplace is the open sharing of ideas; this allows the service that is provided to evolve organically. The key for staff in managerial positions is to manage this type of learning effectively. (Rodd, 1997) Using this form of learning is a simple method of ensuring that all staff are working towards a common goal and are functioning at a similar skill level. Making this method available to staff in a centre environment will also encourage bonding and a feeling camaraderie within the team.

The Application of Best Practice Services
It is possible for a staff member to fully function within a centre environment without being fully aware that the standard of care they are providing would be described as “Best practice”. This is due to the fact that guidelines have been set, mission statements written and policies decided by managerial staff who have already considered what would be known as best practice. Best practice can be defined as the practice of refining what we do and measuring it standards set by internal or external bodies (Tansey & Thompson 1998).

Tertiary Education
Widely acknowledged as the benchmark for professionalism, this form of training is very important but is not necessarily the ultimate measure of professionalism (Tansey & Thompson 1998). Tertiary education does, however, give an early childhood educator a good grounding in the methods of management for children’s services and the various aspects of children’s education. It is expected that a staff member in child services would bring with them a high level of commitment along with a solid base of ‘training and qualification in child care and child development’ (McGurk, Harry. Child Care in a caring society 1996 reproduced in Family Matters No.46 Autumn 1997).

On the Job Training/Learning
An easy way to ensue that all staff are participating in the learning process is to develop and on the job training or learning program, this allows managerial staff to make sure that all staff are furthering their individual skills for a collective improvement. To ensure that staff become ‘learning people’, it is important in this environment to maintain a positive atmosphere so that staff can collaborate and cooperate in this endeavor (Dunphy, 1986. Reproduced in Rodd, L. 1997, ‘Learning to Develop as Early Childhood Professionals’).


McGurk, Harry. Child Care in a caring society 1996 reproduced in Family Matters No.46 Autumn 1997 located at

Rodd, L. 1997, ‘Learning to Develop as Early Childhood Professionals’, Australian Journal of Early Childhood, vol. 22, no 1. pp. 1-5 reproduced in Topic 4 readings.

Tansey, S & Thompson, J. 1998, ‘Defining Professionalism Within Children’s Services, Rattler, Summer 1998, no 48, pp