Child Care Licensing
Balancing classroom technology with supervision
Many programs today are catching up with the emerging technology now available to child care centers.
Software programs and apps can allow teachers to snap a photo, create a video, and select notes to make observations and developmental assessments of the children in their classes in an instant. This remarkable service is a boon to teachers with limited time to complete these tasks while supervising a class full of children.
New technology can calculate hourly name-to-face attendance counts for each classroom, enabling directors to see the numbers in real time and adjust staffing as needed as well as watch attendance trends.
Moreover, technology tools can give teachers the ability to complete a daily report electronically and send it to parents. No more stuffing a daily sheet in a backpack on the way out the door.
Programs also have the option to use apps for such wide-ranging issues as allergy information and lesson planning. With all the new options in technology, much concern has arisen over the technology rule in the minimum standards.
§746.1203 What additional responsibilities do my caregivers counted in the child/caregiver ratio have?
In addition to the responsibilities for employees specified in this division, caregivers counted in the child/caregiver ratio must:
(6) Be free from activities not directly involving the teaching, care, and supervision of children, such as:
(D) Personal use of electronic devices, such as cell phones, MP3 players, and video games.
This standard was intended to eliminate personal use of cell phones while supervising a classroom of children. It was also intended to prohibit teachers from plugging in to their MP3 player with headphones while supervising children on the playground or during naptime. Teachers should not be using technology to up their Candy Crush scores or scan Facebook posts during naptime.
Below are some items to consider with the new technology that you have selected to use in your program.
The key is remembering the intent of caregiver supervision. Minimum Standard 746.1205 states that decisions on how closely to supervise children must take into account the following: 1) ages of the children; 2) individual differences and abilities; 3) indoor and outdoor layout of the child care operation; and 4) neighborhood circumstances, hazards, and risks. While apps can be valuable tools, we want to ensure caregivers are appropriately supervising and maintaining face time with children.
Ensure your caregivers are adequately trained on how to use the technology or app before it is introduced to the classroom. Consider a pilot program in limited classrooms before full-scale implementation.
Consider adding caregivers to the classroom during the implementation phase of new technology. You will need to assess your caregivers’ abilities to ensure appropriate supervision while using new technology.
Remember that naptime is an appropriate time for caregivers to catch up on observation assessments, write daily notes, or do lesson planning. Advise caregivers to position themselves in a location where they can see all children and often take a break from the device to ensure supervision. The room must be adequately lighted during naptime so a caregiver’s eyes do not have to adjust from the lighting of the electronic device. Even though using technology may be relatively easy, careful supervision during naptime is critical. Children may have febrile seizures, put objects in their mouths, or engage in inappropriate activities with their friends during this time.
Use your program’s app’s time reports if there is ever a question of caregiver’s using a device for personal reasons. Accountability is key.
During inspections by the licensing division, you can expect observation and questions related to the use of technology in your program. We want to facilitate an open dialogue to gain understanding of the technologies being used by your caregivers and how they are maintaining appropriate supervision of children.
The licensing division is in the process of its six-year comprehensive review of all the minimum standards. This includes a review of Chapters 746, 747, and 744. As of Nov. 5, we have completed 31 stakeholder meetings and have begun the process of pulling together all the comments submitted through the process. Watch the department website for up-to-date information on future timeframes for your input on proposed standards.
If you missed the presentations, you can find them at this site: www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/Child_Care_Standards_and_Regulations/default.asp.