Core Competencies for Early Care and Education and School-age Professionals


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In 2009, the Washington Legislature asked DEL to develop core competencies for early learning professionals. At the same time, School’s Out Washington developed companion core competencies for school-age professionals. 


The core competencies:

  • Define what professionals need to know and be able to do to provide quality education and care.
  • Serve as the foundation for decisions and practices carried out by professionals in all settings and programs.
  • Establish a set of standards for care and education the support professionalism in the field and will help to align all state-required trainings tracked in MERIT.
  • Are a resource tool that can be used by many people for many purposes:
    • Providers, practitioners and teachers: To assess knowledge and identify areas for future professional development.
    • Program directors/administrators: To define training and education requirements for job descriptions, help employees with goal setting and establish a salary scale based on educational achievement.
    • Trainers/training organizations: To plan and organize training opportunities.
    • Higher education entities: To coordinate and design courses and organize the framework for credentials, certificates and degrees.
View the Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals:


View the Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals:


The core competencies include standards around eight areas with five levels professionals can achieve.

  1. Child Growth and Development

  2. Learning Environment and Curriculum

  3. Child Observation and Assessment

  4. Families and Communities

  5. Health, Safety and Nutrition

  6. Interactions with Children

  7. Program Planning and Development

  8. Professional Development and Leadership

The school-age core competencies include similar areas, as well as two additional ones: Cultural Competency and Responsiveness and Youth Empowerment. To learn more about the school-age competencies, visit School’s Out Washington.