Child Care

Career Lattice

What is the Career Lattice?
Career Lattice is for individuals dedicated to promoting healthy, safe and developmentally-appropriate learning experiences for children and youth. The lattice defines seven levels of professional achievement. Each level includes education and professional commitment requirements. Practitioners can use the lattice to plan a course for their own career development and receive recognition for their educational and professional achievements.

The Career Lattice documents the educational and professional accomplishments of those who choose to participate in Pathways to Professional Development. It is designed to help practitioners accumulate an accurate record of their educational accomplishments and to receive recognition for their professional commitment. Those who wish to participate must complete an application.

What is the purpose of the Career Lattice?

  • To recognize individuals who make a commitment to continued professional development related to their work with children and youth.
  • To increase the number of quality care and education programs by developing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce.
  • To develop awareness among parents, employers and other community members of the important roles child care, early education and youth development practitioners play within communities across South Dakota.

Who may participate in the Career Lattice?
The Career Lattice includes:

  • child care providers,
  • early educators,
  • youth development specialists,
  • trainers,
  • directors,
  • administrators and
  • advocates for young children and families.

The Career Lattice provides professional recognition for those who work directly or indirectly with infants, toddlers, preschool children, school-age children and youth. It includes entry-level education and advanced degrees.

Practitioners are recognized for their work with children, youth and families in a variety of settings such as:

  • Family child care and group family child care homes
  • Child care centers
  • Preschools
  • Head Start programs
  • Out-of-school time programs for school-age children
  • Public and private schools
  • Public and private universities and tribal colleges
  • Community agencies serving children and families (i.e. early intervention, family literacy, teen parent programs, etc.)

Private organizations and government agencies who impact early care and education at local, state and regional levels.

How does the application process work?
All practitioners are encouraged to apply to the Career Lattice by completing an application.

  • The completed application, including documentation of educational and professional experiences, is mailed to:
    • South Dakota Department of Social Services
      Division of Child Care Services
      910 East Sioux Ave.
      Pierre, SD 57501
  • The documentation is reviewed and the level the applicant has successfully attained on the Career Lattice is determined.
  • The practitioner is notified of the Career Lattice level she or he has attained.
  • The practitioner receives a certificate and other applicable materials.
  • The certificate is recognized for three years, during which time the practitioner is encouraged to pursue additional education and other professional development experiences.

How is the Career Lattice helpful?

  • Serves as a vehicle for practitioners to pursue continued professional growth within their chosen field.
  • Builds public appreciation of and respect for the early care and education and out-of-school time professions.
  • Encourages employers to improve working conditions and employment opportunities for professionals who work with children.
  • Encourages increased recognition and compensation for knowledgeable and experienced practitioners.
  • Encourages parents to make more informed choices about child care and education options for their children.

How might the Career Lattice be used?
The philosophy of Pathways to Professional Development is that the quality of care and education children receive depends on the knowledge and skills of the people who care for and educate them.

To promote the following beliefs:

  • Individuals or programs may publicize the education, training and experience of practitioners so parents and other community members know the children are being cared for and educated by trained personnel.
  • Employers may recruit new employees based on their achievements (level) on the Career Lattice.
  • New, innovative programs may be developed to improve the quality of child care and early education in South Dakota.