Outdoor Nature-Based Providers

As an outdoor nature-based child care provider, you must meet the staff qualification requirements for your role as identified by the Outdoor Nature-Based (ONB) Child Care Touchstone Standards.

Timeline

Providers hired before Aug. 1, 2019: House Bill 2556 extended the timeline for existing early learning providers until August 1, 2026.

Providers hired after Aug. 1, 2019: All child care providers have five years from their date of hire or promotion to meet their full education staff qualifications requirements.

Meeting Staff Qualifications

Review the following information to learn about role-specific qualifications, or print the General Staff Qualifications chart for Outdoor Nature-Based programs.  

Director, Assistant Director, Program Supervisor

  • Background Check
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Test
  • Licensing Orientation (if applicable)
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement:
    • 30 hours or 3 credits of nature-based education training
    • 10 ECE credits (12 or less children)
    • 25 ECE credits (13-24 children)
    • 45 ECE credits (25+ children)
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR (if applicable)
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • Safe Sleep (if applicable)
  • Electronic Attendance training (if applicable)
  • Subsidy Billing (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Enhancing Quality of Early Learning
  • Leadership Practices

Only one person in one of these roles must meet the requirement upon hire.

  • Full Education: WA ECE State Certificate (47 credits) or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion: 5 years or by Aug. 1, 2026

Lead Teacher

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement:
    • 10 hours or one credit of nature-based education training
    • High School Diploma
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Enhancing Quality of Early Learning
  • Full Education:
    • ECE Initial Certificate (12 credits)
    • Short Certificate (20 credits)
    • Or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion
    • Initial Certificate - 5 years or by Aug. 1, 2026
    • Short Certificate - 2 years from completing Initial Certificate

Assistant Teacher

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement: High School Diploma
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Enhancing Quality of Early Learning
  • Full Education: WA State Initial Certificate (12 credits) or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion: 5 years or by Aug. 1, 2026

Aide

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 14
  • Hiring Education Requirement: High School Diploma or Enrolled
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • No requirement

Volunteer (Ongoing)

For information about ongoing vs occasional volunteer, see the Volunteering in an Early Learning Facility guide.

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 14
  • Hiring Education Requirement: N/A
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Federal Health and Safety Trainings
    • Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Serving Children Experiencing Homelessness
  • No requirement
  • Full Education: No requirement

Other Staff

“Other staff” includes roles that do not provide direct care to children or count in ratio.

  • Background Check (if applicable)
  • Food Handler’s (if applicable)
  • N/A

Program Director

  • Background Check
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Test
  • Licensing Orientation (if applicable)
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement:
    • 30 hours or three credits of nature-based education training
    • 12 college credits
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR (if applicable)
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • Electronic Attendance Training (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Full Education: 45 college credits in any one hundred-level or above college coursework or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion: 5 years

Site Director

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement:
    • 30 hours or 3 credits of nature-based education training
    • 12 college credits
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR (if applicable)
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Full Education: 30 college credits in any 100-level or above college coursework or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion: 5 years or by Aug. 1, 2026

Lead Teacher

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement:
    • 10 hours or one credit of nature-based education training
    • High School Diploma or equivalent
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR (if applicable)
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Full Education: 12 college credits in any 100-level or above college coursework or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion: 5 years or by Aug. 1, 2026

Assistant Teacher

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Hiring Education Requirement: High School Diploma or equivalent
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • Full Education: Washington State ECE Initial Certificate or equivalent
  • Time Allowed from Date of Hire or Promotion: 5 years or by Aug. 1, 2026

Aide

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 14
  • Hiring Education Requirement: High School Diploma or Enrolled
  • Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Basics
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR (if applicable)
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Food Handlers (if applicable)
  • 10-Hour Annual In-Service Training
  • N/A

Volunteer

  • Background Check
  • TB Test
  • Minimum Age: 14
  • Hiring Education Requirement: N/A
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • Federal Health and Safety Trainings
    • Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Serving Children Experiencing Homelessness
    • Prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome (if applicable)
  • N/A

General Staff Qualifications

These are requirements that must be met before a provider receives a license or works with children (ONB Touchstone Standard 0105). Pre-service requirements include:

  • Licensing Orientation*
  • Background Check
  • TB Test

* If applicable for the role.

These are requirements that a person must have upon hire (ONB Touchstone Standard 0100). They include:

  • The minimum age to work with children in an outdoor nature-based child care setting.
  • The education level needed before being hired. This depends on the role.
  • The experience needed before being hired or left alone with the children in care. This depends on the role.

Education Requirement in WAC

Depending on your role, outdoor nature-based child care providers must meet a certain education level in order to qualify for that role (ONB Touchstone Standard 0100).

There are several options for meeting the full education requirements. 

Licensing standards in outdoor nature-based child care settings require training to be completed before a provider can care for children (or within a specific timeframe) and throughout their career.