As the professional qualifications for those working with infants, toddlers, and their families continue to expand, institutes of higher education (IHEs) play an increasingly vital role in training the infant/toddler workforce. However, IHEs face numerous programming and pedagogical issues that make meeting the needs of these professionals difficult. These issues are further complicated by persistent challenges within early care and education. In this paper, we examine these issues in detail and discuss the Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant/toddler Development (CUPID), a cross-institution partnership working to enhance the quality of infant/toddler professional preparation in higher education.

Author Biography

Dr. Jennifer Mortensen

Dr. Jennifer Mortensen uses ecological approaches to understand wellbeing for families with infants and toddlers. Her research focuses on understanding risk and protective factors as they relate to parent-infant interactions, parental wellbeing, and infant socioemotional development. Her research also examines the role of early care and home visiting settings in fostering wellbeing, especially economic disadvantaged families or infants/toddlers experiencing maltreatment. She draws motivation and inspiration for this work from her time as an infant/toddler teacher at Early Head Start.

Maryssa Kucskar Mitsch

Maryssa Kucskar Mitsch, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Special Education at San Francisco State University. Her primary teaching responsibilities and research interests include promotion of inclusive practices, working with families, teacher preparation, social skills development, and early intervention. She is also interested in strategies for effective teacher preparation and ongoing professional development. She draws inspiration from her previous work as an early childhood special education teacher and instructional coach.

Kalli Decker

Kalli Decker, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education & Child Services at Montana State University. Kalli’s research focuses on infants and toddlers with special needs and their families who receive early intervention services. In her work with researchers across the county as part of the Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant/toddler Development (CUPID), Kalli also seeks to better understand preservice early childhood students and what influences their knowledge, attitudes, and skills.

Maria Fusaro

Maria Fusaro Ed.D. is an Associate Professor in Child and Adolescent Development at San Jose State University. Her research centers on how young children, under age 5, learn from and with other people, through both verbal and gesture-based communication and through question-answer exchanges. Bridging her teaching and research interests, she also studies the preparation of undergraduate students for careers in infant/toddler care and education, and for providing high quality, supportive learning experiences for young children.

Sandra I. Plata-Potter

Associate professor at the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina, Department of Education, teaching non-traditional students in the Early Childhood Education program. Research experience includes Latino families with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The core of my research interest centers on parental engagement. Being cognizant of the fact that the individual culture of families plays a pivotal role in how parents engage in their child’s development, with the definition of culture extending further than one’s ethnicity, the propensity of intergenerational academic deficits, and how parental funds of knowledge are relevant to the nature and extent of parental engagement.

Holly Brophy-Herb

Holly Brophy-Herb is a Professor of Child Development at Michigan State University. She holds an infant mental health endorsement and is Editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal. Dr. Brophy-Herb’s research program focuses on parents’/caregivers’ emotion socialization practices and toddlers’ early social and emotional development in the context of parent/caregiver child relationships. She is particularly interested in how emotion socialization practices are related to adult psychosocial characteristics (including mental health), reflective capacities, and contextual characteristics including family and early childhood education settings.

Claire Vallotton

Claire Vallotton, PhD, is Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University. She conducts translational research to improve the quality of training for the early child care and education workforce and provide families with effective tools support their children's development of social-emotional and communication skills. Dr. Vallotton is the founding coordinator of the Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant toddler Development (CUPID), a cross-university Scholarship of Teaching and Learning effort to improve the preparation of the early childhood workforce. She has been awarded the New Investigator Award from the World Association of Infant Mental Health, and was named an Exceptional Emerging Leader in child care research from ChildCare Exchange.

Martha J. Buell

Martha J. Buell is a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Director of the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC), and a member of the Early Childhood Education faculty at the University of Delaware. Much of her research and policy work centers on improving the quality of early care and education programs especially for infants and toddlers, young children living in poverty, and those from multi-lingual and multi-cultural backgrounds.



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