Improving care. Changing lives.

Judge Baker “CARES” for Local Early Childhood Education Center

CARE training at Commonwealth Children's Center

In February of this year, Judge Baker began a three-month collaboration with teachers and administrators from the Commonwealth Children’s Center to enhance the social emotional learning curriculum at their early childhood education center. The Commonwealth Children’s Center is a private, non-profit, NAEYC accredited early childhood educational program that is open to the general public with enrollment priority given to state employees. Located steps from the Massachusetts State House, Commonwealth Children’s Center provides care for children ages 3 months to 6 years in classrooms for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschool/Pre-Kindergarten children. Consultants from Judge Baker began the collaboration with a day-long didactic and experiential training to their staff. During the training, staff received instruction in the Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE) social emotional learning curriculum. CARE is a highly effective skills-based curriculum for teachers, early education providers, and other professionals that interact with children on a daily basis. Built on the foundations of a well-established evidence-based treatment program known as Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), CARE enhances the skills of early childhood educators by providing simple, concrete skills to improve caregiver-child relationship and encourage positive child behavior. 

CARE incorporates a set of skills to build positive relationships with and encourage positive behavior from children (the 3P’s: Praise, Paraphrase, and Point out Positive Behavior), while avoiding behaviors for brief periods each day which can undermine the relationship (the 3Q’s: Questions, Quashing the Need to Lead, and “Quit It” Talk). The CARE program also includes specific instructions for educators on giving effective commands to improve compliance, as well as strategies to redirect child disruptive behavior. The program contains a trauma education component to contextualize the use of these skills with the kinds of behaviors and problems often exhibited by children with trauma histories. The CARE training is highly interactive and skills-based, with didactic presentation, video modeling, and a strong focus on role-play and active practice.

After completing the training, staff returned to their classrooms at the Commonwealth Children’s Center and began using the skills in their daily interactions with children. Consultants from Judge Baker then visited the Center after several weeks and provided a half-day of live in-classroom coaching to teachers and support personnel. Using closed-circuit television monitoring and discrete earpieces worn by the teachers, the Judge Baker consultants were able to coach the teacher-child classroom interactions and assist teachers with their application of the CARE skills. This on-the-job coaching is the most vital part of the collaboration, as the actual application of newly learned skills like CARE usually comes only with hands-on coaching in the classroom. Teachers and administrators have already reported more successful interactions with children. During transitions periods such as circle time and nap time children are reportedly more compliant and there are fewer temper outbursts. The collaboration will continue next month when Judge Baker’s consultants return for another half-day consultation to assist in the continued implementation of the CARE skills.