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Positive change in child care

Written by Kim Karu, social emotional coach, Child Care Action
Council (CCAC), and Annie Cubberly, executive director, CCAC

Is child care bad for kids? The definitive answer to that question is no! A quality child care environment can help children develop many very valuable skills, including good social/emotional skills, strong cognitive skills and a love of learning that will prepare them to enter kindergarten fully prepared to be successful.

Recent articles have implied that children in child care are more aggressive. But the same articles acknowledge that there can be many other possible contributing factors to children’s aggression. According to the Center for Evidence-Based Practice, some family factors include maternal depression, harsh parenting, stressful family life, poverty, poor nutrition, victimization and discrimination. Witnessing violent behaviors and exposure to violent media can also be factors. Although many families may identify with at least one of these factors, they alone do not explain the existence of challenging behaviors. In fact, some children with aggressive behaviors will have none of the factors. It should also be emphasized that the rate of resilience or ability for a child  to “bounce back” and adopt more socially acceptable behaviors is extremely high, and a quality child care setting can often be the place in which a child can redefine his or her behaviors in positive ways.

Part of the solution is for child care providers to pay close attention to the social and emotional needs of young children. The Child Care Action Council (CCAC) in Olympia has implemented a program that trains child care providers in proactive, relationship-based care in a child care setting. Supporting Successful Relationships is a four-week consultation program offered to child care providers at no cost, using video footage in the classroom in conjunction with state-of-the-art research conducted through the University of Washington’s Child and Nursing Program. The consultation focuses on teaching coping and social skills, rather than focusing on reducing negative behaviors. Using this strength-based program gives the provider support, training, and tools to be used in the child care environment. The effects of instructing child care providers about a different teaching approach has exposed hundreds of children to a positive, nurturing, relationship-based child care setting. Supporting Successful Relationships can begin to unravel the negative behaviors sometimes viewed in child care. One child care provider said, “I learned so much about social/emotional development that I did not know before. At first I though it was the child that was the problem, but when I changed the way I reacted, and implemented the Supporting Successful Relationships strategies, all the children in my care benefited.”

The mission of CCAC is to ensure that all children are cared for in environments where they can learn and grow to their full potential. CCAC provides child care referrals for parents, training and consultation for child care providers, and programs such as Raising a Reader, Keystone Crisis Nursery and the Safe Kids Coalition.

CCAC is a ParentMap Giving Together partner. For more information about CCAC programs and a short video on Supporting Successful Relationships, go to www.CCACWA.org.

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