Early Childhood Education

Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC)


The Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC) is the nation’s major provider of infant/toddler caregiver training. WestEd, one of the nation’s ten regional Educational Research and Development Laboratories, launched PITC in 1986, working with the California Department of Education (CDE/CDD). PITC activities include creating and distributing video, print, and Web site materials, and providing institutes, graduate events, conferences, community outreach events, and locally based training of caregivers. PITC video and print materials are the most widely disseminated infant/toddler caregiver training materials in the United States. Between 1996 and 2003, PITC played a major role in providing training and technical assistance to the 700 Early Head Start and Migrant Head Start programs serving infants and toddlers. PITC has presented Trainer Institutes, along with graduate conferences and satellite trainings, in sixteen states. The Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers training system has reached more than 100,000 caregivers nationwide.

The heart of the PITC philosophy is the development of warm, nurturing relationships between infants, their families, and their caregivers, and care that is individualized, culturally responsive, and respectful of the child’s cues and natural desire to learn. PITC recommends six program policies that support relationships and early learning:

• The assignment of a primary caregiver to each child and family

• Continuity of caregiver assignments and groups over time

• The creation of small groups of children and caregivers

• Responsiveness to individual needs, abilities and schedules

• Inclusion of children with disabilities and other special needs,

• Cultural responsiveness through dialog and collaboration with families.

These policies are intended to promote the development of relationships and social skills as well as positive identity formation, along with cognitive, language, and physical skills. The physical child care environment is another critical element in the care of infants and toddlers. PITC recommends environments that are safe, healthy, comfortable, and convenient for both children and adults, encourage movement, allow for flexibility, are scaled to the children’s size, and offer a variety of choices. An integral part of the Program’s training philosophy is the concept of “Creating a Community of Learners,” which focuses attention on the variety of learning styles, knowledge and experiences of adult learners, and emphasizes the value of supported, cooperative learning. An evaluation of PITC training has shown a positive impact on programs after completing the training. After attendance at PITC institutes, participants may become certified Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers trainers in that module through the successful completion of a certification paper describing their training plans for each of the module’s topics.

The PITC materials and trainings are organized into four modules.

• Module I: Social-emotional Growth and Socialization includes infant temperament, stages of emotional development, responsive caregiving, guidance, and discipline.

• Module II: Group Care includes caregiving routines, environments, group organization, and respectful care.

• Module III: Learning and Development includes brain development, cognitive learning, language and communication, special needs, and the role of culture in learning and development.

• Module IV: Culture, Family, and Providers includes culture and identity formation, parent-caregiver relations, and providing culturally sensitive care.

See also Infant Care; Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale.

Further Readings: Mangione, Peter L. (1990). A comprehensive approach to using video for training infant and toddler caregvers. Infants and Young Children 13(2), vi-xi.

Web Site: PITC Web Site, www.pitc.org

J. Ronald Lally