To better care for children, many child care providers undergo training on everything from nutrition to health and safety and early child education. Another important focus area is supporting children’s emotional well-being. Child Care Resource Center’s mental health consultants are here to offer guidance.
What’s the Program’s Purpose?
When children act out or express strong, uncontrolled behaviors like throwing toys, tantrums or disobedience, certain tools can help the child cope and recover. Through CCRC’s free Building Early Education Strategies program, a trained mental health consultant works with child care providers to better understand the emotional and social needs of the children in their program.
Those who completed the program told us they now feel confident, competent, and in control. A survey showed 100% of participants saw improvements in the behavior of children in their care. They valued the feedback sessions, support system, new strategies for handling behavior issues, and tools to deal with pandemic impacts on children and staff.
How Does it Work?
The program uses a 3-step process that begins with a virtual “visit” from a mental health consultant, who acts as a fly on the wall observing the child care set-up and interactions between the children and provider. The observation takes place virtually through an iPad and does not disrupt the program.
The consultant considers the care environment – possible disruptions in play area or overstimulating décor and colors – interactions between children and provider, how children respond to the provider’s commands and the impact of different vocabulary words, and how the children interact with each other.
After the observation period, a feedback session with the center director and staff allows the consultant to go over issues in the program and help determine a strategy for improvement. The feedback session is designed to be open-ended and allows for a safe space to share concerns and identify solutions.
Support is ongoing, so troubleshooting is available even after program completion. This program is designed to be concise and efficient; the intake process takes about 1 hour, a classroom or care setting observation takes about 2 hours, and a feedback session lasts 1 hour or more, depending on the provider’s needs. Overall, the experience takes only 3-5 hours but can have results that last a lifetime.
Meet one of our Consultants
Denise Torres is a mental health consultant with a background in therapeutic services for children. She is one of three coaches available to providers through CCRC’s program.
“We’re able to hone in on developmental milestones and if the children are meeting them or they’re delayed. We can recognize if it’s noncompliant behavior they’re experiencing from the children or if it’s trauma. We can also observe whether the provider is experiencing some type of trauma or triggers in the classroom and how to address it. You’re going to have an extra set of eyes in the classroom because you’re already that busy dealing with the kids’ behavior, the curriculum, sanitizing hands and toys, you’re dealing with all that. So by offering an extra set of eyes in the classroom, I can share some insights you may not see because you’re so busy,” says Denise, who has a background in therapeutic services for children. “I watch for triggers and I take note of the strengths and weaknesses of the providers and children.”