Child Care Ethics

Child care practitioners work with one of society’s most vulnerable groups-young children. The quality of the relations among young children and their caregivers has a substantial, long-term influence on children’s lives. The nature of the relationship and the potential that exists to do harm require the child care practitioners to abide by the highest standards of ethical practice.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has published code of ethical conduct which can be accessed at

The code of ethical conduct states that childhood is a unique and valuable stage in the life cycle. The prime responsibility of early childhood caregivers and educators is to provide safe, healthy, nurturing, and responsive settings for children. It requires them to be committed to support children’s development, respect their individual differences, help children learn to live and work cooperatively, promote good self-image and encourage health, self-awareness, competence, confidence, and resiliency.

The Code categorizes the professional responsibilities of early childhood educators in four sections, each addressing an arena of professional relationships: (1) children, (2) families, (3) colleagues, and (4) community and society. Moreover, each section includes an introduction to the primary responsibilities of the early childhood practitioner in that arena, a set of ideals aiming at commendable professional practice, and a set of principles defining practices that are necessary, barred, and acceptable.

The ideals and principles mentioned in the code enables the practitioners to make conscientious decisions. They also present a shared conception of professional responsibility that affirms their commitment to the core values of this field.

The code directs the practitioner on acceptable behavioral practices with co-workers and superiors. Employers and employees have ethical responsibilities towards themselves and the institution and must be answerable and accountable for their actions.

Early childhood programs also have responsibilities to the community by providing programs that meet its needs and to cooperate with agencies and professions that share responsibility for children.

The code of ethical conduct may be purchased as a brochure, and the Statement of Commitment is available as a poster suitable for framing. Visit the NAEYC website for more information about ordering.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,


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