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Core Competencies

Core Competencies Are Critical to the Field

The Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals define what professionals need to know and be able to do in order to provide quality child and youth programming. Core competencies serve as the foundation for decisions carried out by professionals in all settings and programs and establish a set of standards that support the professionalization of the child and youth development field.  

School’s Out Washington led the statewide committee which defined these core competencies using the Kansas and Missouri Core Competencies for Youth Development Professionals as a starting framework, customized for Washington’s needs with input from stakeholders through focus groups and a statewide online survey.  

A seamless system from birth to 18

There are two aligned and integrated sets of core competencies that serve as the foundation for child and youth professionals in Washington state: the Washington State Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals (PDF Link), which addresses caregivers and teachers working with children birth through age eight, and the Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals, which addresses professionals working with children ages five to 18. Although there is an overlap in the age range for the two sets of competencies, the child and youth document delves more deeply into the core knowledge and skills needed for professionals who specialize in serving children and youth from kindergarten through high school. 

Download the Core Competencies

Download the Complete Core Competencies Document (PDF)

Additional Resources

The Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals At- A-Glance brochure is available in a hard copy. Contact Nerrisah Townsend for this shorter version of the document that includes a self-assessment checklist. 

View a Powerpoint presentation with talking points that introduces the core competencies and how to use them. We encourage you to use these resources with your organization, board of directors, school administrators or other community leaders and stakeholders.

What are the Core Competencies?

The core competencies are organized into ten content areas, ensuring a comprehensive approach, and each content area is broken into five levels to distinguish the expectations for professionals as they progress from new/untrained to experienced/trained in the field. 

I: Child/Adolescent Growth and Development

Understand how children and youth learn, develop, and acquire language and creative expression in each of the domains: physical, social, emotional, and cognitive. 

II: Learning Environment and Curriculum

Establish an environment that provides learning experiences that meet each child and youth’s needs, capabilities, and interests.

III: Child/Adolescent Observation and Assessment

Observe and assess what children and youth know and can do in order to provide curriculum that meets their developmental and learning needs.

IV: Families, Communities, and Schools

Work collaboratively with families, schools, and agencies/organizations to meet the needs of children and youth and to encourage the community’s involvement with child/youth development. 

V: Safety and Wellness

Establish and maintain an environment that ensures children and youth’s healthy physical and emotional development, safety, and nourishment.

VI: Interactions with Children and Youth

Establish and maintain an environment that ensures children and youth’s healthy physical and emotional development, safety, and nourishment.

VII: Program Planning and Development

Establish, implement, and evaluate child/youth development programs.

VIII: Professional Development and Leadership

Serve children, youth, and families in a professional manner and participate in the community as a representative of the child/youth development field. 

IX: Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

Understand diversity within and across cultures and provide an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful environment where all children, youth, and families can take pride in their cultural identities, beliefs, and practices. 

X: Youth Empowerment

Provide opportunities for youth leadership, voice, and empowerment by facilitating the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and actions needed for youth to influence, motivate, inform, and inspire desired actions and reactions by others.