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Pathways to Professional Development

Two Girls

South Dakota Pathways to Professional Development is a statewide project recognizing those who work in child care, preschool, Head Start, Out-of-School Time and other programs serving the needs of children and families and may include practitioners with entry-level education or advanced degrees.

The goal of the Pathways project is to support those who actively pursue ongoing educational opportunities and professional commitments to the field.

For more information on participating in the Pathways to Professional Development program, and to request a complete application packet of materials contact the Department of Social Services' Child Care Services by calling toll-free 800.227.3020 or by email at CCS@state.sd.us

Career Lattice Requirements

Professional Training Areas

The following 15 categories represent professional training that all practitioners should receive in order to provide for the unique developmental needs of the children, youth and families they serve.  Within each of these broad categories, various topics can be addressed and easily tracked for those enrolled in the Pathways to Professional Development Career Lattice.

  1. Child growth and development
  2. Child abuse and neglect
  3. Guidance and behavior management
  4. Observing children
  5. Identification and prevention of communicable diseases
  6. Program health and safety
  7. Nutrition for children
  8. Program management and regulation
  9. Interpersonal communication and relationships
  10. Cultural diversity
  11. Learning environments
  12. Age-appropriate planning
  13. Professionalism
  14. Partnerships with parents
  15. Inclusion of all children

Level 1 Introductory Informal Education

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Current CPR certification and first aid training
  • Six additional hours of training (within the last year) in two or more of the 15 Professional Training Areas
  • Work directly with children in a child care, preschool, Head Start, or school-age program

Level 2 Advanced Informal Education

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Current CPR certification and first aid training
  • 20 additional hours of training (within the last year) in four or more of the 15 Professional Training Areas
  • Work directly with children in a state-registered or licensed child care, preschool, Head Start, or school-age program
  • Current membership in a recognized professional organization related to the early childhood or school-age field; or attend six hours of professional development conference training within the past two years.

Level 3 Professional Credential

  • Current CPR certification and first aid training (if working with children)
  • CDA, SD OST Credential, or other similar credential which includes a minimum of 120 hours of training; or a vocational certificate with early childhood or youth development emphasis
  • Work directly with children in a state-registered or licensed child care, preschool, Head Start, or school-age program; or provide leadership or instruction that promotes the development of other practitioners
  • Current Membership in a recognized professional organization related to the early childhood or school-age field
  • Attend six hours of professional development conference training within the past two years

Level 4 Apprenticeship or Higher Education Coursework

  • Current CPR certification and first aid training (if working with children)
  • Completion of apprenticeship training and certification or 12 college credits in early childhood
  • Two years experience working in a program with children in the past six years or two years experience providing leadership or instruction that promotes the development of
    other practitioners
  • Membership in a recognized professional organization related to the early childhood or school-age field
  • Attend six hours of professional development conference training within the past two years

Level 5 Early Childhood Associate’s Degree

  • Current CPR certification and first aid training (if working with children)
  • Associate’s degree with a minimum of 18 early childhood credits or unrelated bachelor’s degree with work experience and training in early childhood or school-age program
  • Two years' experience working in a program with children in the past four years or supervised practicum/field experience as required by associate’s degree program or minimum of two years of experience providing leadership/instruction promoting the development of other practitioners
  • Membership in a recognized professional organization related to the early childhood or school-age field
  • Attend six hours of professional development conference training  within the past two years

Level 6 Baccalaureate Degree

  • Current CPR certification and first aid training (if working with children)
  • Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 24 credits in early childhood education or bachelor’s degree in a related field of study combined with work experience and professional
    training
  • Four years' experience in a state-registered or licensed early childhood or school-age program; or supervised field experience as required by a bachelor’s degree program; or two years' experience providing leadership or instruction that promotes the development of other practitioners
  • Membership in a recognized professional organization related to the early childhood or school-age field
  • Attend six hours of professional development conference training within the past two years

Level 7 Master’s and Doctoral Degree

  • Current CPR certification and first aid training (if working with children)
  • Master’s or Doctoral degree in early childhood or a closely-related field
  • Four years of experience providing leadership or instruction that promotes the development of other practitioners
  • Serve as a mentor and educator to others in the field
  • Membership in a recognized professional organization related to the early childhood or school-age field
  • Attend six hours of professional development conference training within the past two years
  • Demonstration of professional leadership

Applying for the Career Lattice

This form is to be used by child care providers, early educators, youth development specialists, trainers, directors, administrators and advocates for young children and families to apply for the Career Lattice in the Pathways to Professional Development program.  Before submitting your application to Child Care Services, be sure you have attached all required documentation or your application may be denied. 

Send your application and information to:
Department of Social Services
Child Care Services
910 E Sioux Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501