State program for families, early child care, education has grant to expand
Early childhood professionals have known for decades that they play a unique role in protecting and nurturing young children as well as promoting their social and emotional development.
Now there is evidence to suggest that early childhood programs that reach out to parents may also be the best child abuse and neglect prevention strategy.
Washington has been selected to expand an approach aimed at connecting child care centers, parents and communities with the resources and support each need to ensure the best possible outcomes for children.
The Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect/Children’s Trust Fund of Washington received $50,000 in grant funds to implement the Strengthening Families plan and to serve as a resource to the National Alliance and to other Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds. Following a selection process, the following ten agencies were chosen for their commitment to family support:
o St. James Family Center, Cathlamet;
o Big Bend Community College Family Literacy Program, Moses Lake;
o Centralia College Child Care Center and ECEAP Programs, Centralia;
o ESD 113 Sound to Harbor Head Start/ECEAP, Aberdeen;
o Family Child Care and Preschool, Duvall;
o Lower Columbia College Head Start/ECEAP, Longview;
o Olympia Early Learning Center, Olympia;
o Olympic Community Action Program Early Childhood Services, Sequim;
o Snohomish County ECEAP, Everett, and
o St. Mike’s Tikes Early Learning Center (Olympia)
The programs funded will work together over the next year to identify and share what makes each a leader in reaching out to and supporting parents, and to develop the tools needed to help other early learning programs better support parents.
The Strengthening Families through Early Care and Education Washington initiative is based on national research and evidence that recognizes the important role child care providers play in building protective factors in families with young children. Protective factors help parents use resources, support and strategies that allow them to parent more effectively, even under stress.
“We already know that early learning programs prepare kids for school and promote healthy social and emotional development,” said Governor Gregoire. “Now we see that these programs can also help parents by providing them with support and resources to make choices that are in the best interest of their child.”
“Contrary to the worry of some parents, quality early childhood programs may actually help to strengthen the bonds between parents and children. An early childhood program that can reach out to parents may be the best strategy to help them cope when parenting becomes most challenging – especially under stress,” says Joan Sharp, executive director of the Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Based on the work of the national Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and the support of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Washington joins 22 states as part of a national effort to explore how evidence-based protective factors for children and families can prevent the occurrence of child abuse and neglect.
“CSSP chose to focus on early care and education for this project because these programs represent a significant and systematic way to reach a large number of very young children and families at an opportune time in their lives,” says Judy Langford, project director for the Strengthening Families strategy at the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
The Strengthening Families approach is the first time that research knowledge about child abuse and neglect prevention has been strategically linked to similar knowledge about quality early care and education. Resources and tools have been developed to support early childhood programs, policymakers, and advocates in changing existing early childhood programs in small but significant ways so that they can build protective factors and reduce child abuse and neglect.
The Wahkiakum County Eagle, 77 Main Street, Cathlamet, WA 98612
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