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Infant & Toddler Five Step System
Step One: Collecting Information

In this step, careful consideration and time is spent getting to know the child well. In addition to observation, teachers and program staff should review the information in the child’s record, and talk to parents and other caregivers. The DECI believes that the infant and toddler cannot be observed and understood in isolation of relationships with familiar adults and the caregiving environments, as these are key elements that may affect a child’s behavior. Therefore, it is recommended that efforts be made to collect information and to reflect across a child’s ecological trajectory to include:
  1. Adult caregivers’ strengths and areas of need in terms of caregiving practices
  2. The program’s early care and education practices, to include:
    1. Supportive interactions with the child
    2. Partnerships with families
    3. Activities and experiences
    4. Daily routines and
    5. The physical environment.
  3. The individual child’s strengths and areas of need. It is recommended that children be observed for a minimum of four weeks prior to completing the DECA- I/T to ensure an accurate, objective and complete sample of the child’s behavior.
Step Two: Administering the DECA-I/T

This happens after subsequent information has been collected and the person completing the rating has known the child for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Step Three: Summarizing Results

This step includes careful interpretation of all of the information collected, especially the assessment results. This interpretation should lead to Step four.

Step Four: Implementing Strategies

Collecting information and completing the DECA-I/T should give information that can lead to quality changes for both children and early care and education settings. The information gathered can help to select strategies to enhance practices for all children as well as specific children who need more individualized attention.

Step Five: Evaluating progress

This step is critical to continuous program improvement and maximizing the growth shown by each child. The DECA-I/T provides tools to evaluate progress, in order to determine if program practices are making a difference for children, families, and the overall quality of the early childhood program.
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