Title

Empowering Families To Reduce The “Risk” for At-Risk Children

Location

Savannah

Strand #1

Family & Community

Relevance

Families are on the front line when it comes to promoting the healthy development of children. When the social, economic or emotional stability of families is at risk, children within those families are also at risk. The child who is immersed in an unstable or unsafe home environment is not academically or socially prepared for successful performance in our schools, agencies and community programs. Additionally, the stigma often associated with high risk factors in families can increase the likelihood of child neglect or child abuse. Educators and other professionals in family serving organizations play a key role in connecting with families and providing information, support and resources that will protect and promote children’s health, safety and well-being.

Brief Program Description

Families often face challenges that compromise their ability to put the needs of children first. We must discard the “us vs. them” mentality and adopt productive ways to work differently with families. Educators and agency leaders will examine a practical framework for promoting the healthy development of young children that incorporates factors for strengthening the families we serve.

Summary

The socio-cultural dynamic of the at-risk child most often originates within the home and is likely to be perpetuated when families are in stressful circumstances. Changes within families resulting from birth of a new child, death of a family member, divorce or family splits can negatively impact a young child’s sense of security. Factors such as mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, poverty or homelessness are severe stressors that can overwhelm families’ and inhibit their ability to respond appropriately to their child’s needs.

As educators, agency administrators and caregivers within early childhood settings, we will examine a framework for supporting, empowering and strengthening families, which can be instrumental in producing positive outcomes for children who are potentially at risk. This framework will include:

  • Strategies for supporting parents managing stressors that may be impacting the child. This involves assessing at-risk situations, promoting parental resilience and initiating follow-up.
  • Ideas for recognizing indicators of social isolation in at-risk families. We will discuss networks of support that are essential to parents and ways to encourage the important social connections that help parents care for themselves and their children.
  • Ways to help parents build their parenting skills and better understand children and their behavior
  • An understanding of the realities of poverty. We will generate examples of useful resources and concrete supports that could help families struggling with basic needs, essential services or behavioral health issues.
  • A component that focuses on various ways of supporting and guiding the social and emotional competence of children and strategies for encouraging parents to do the same.

Building on families’ strengths rather than focusing on deficits is a more promising way to buffer risk, promote better outcomes for learners and forge a positive and productive connection to the families we serve.

Evidence

Since 2001, research by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) has centered around the potential role that early childcare and education programs might play in strengthening families and preventing abuse and neglect. This research supports that early learning programs with significant parent involvement have experienced a 52% lower rate of abuse than programs with low parent involvement. Specifically, researchers have concluded the following:

  • How parents respond to stressors is much more significant that the stressor itself in determining the outcomes for themselves and their children
  • High levels of emotional, informational or spiritual support is linked to positive parental mood, positive responsiveness to one’s children, parental satisfaction, feelings of competence and lower levels of anger, anxiety and depression
  • Early childhood is a critically important period in which the foundation for intellectual, social-emotional and moral development is established. This foundation is determined by the nature of the child’s environments and by experiences that define early brain development.
  • A strong link exists between young children’s social-emotional competence and their cognitive development, language skills, mental health and school success.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Cheryl Smith Turner is a seasoned teacher trainer and educational consultant who brings passion, professionalism and more than 35 years of experience in the field of education to each and every presentation she does. As an Asst. Project Director and Lead Trainer for the Georgia State University Best Practices Training Initiative, Cheryl worked collaboratively with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (Bright from the Start) in developing and providing professional development for Georgia Pre-K teachers, site directors and other education practitioners. She conducts professional development workshops and one to two-day trainings on a variety of topics and areas of content, to include classroom management, social-emotional development, language and literacy development, critical thinking skills and play based learning. Currently, Cheryl is a nationally certified trainer for classroom management and differentiated instruction as well as a state approved trainer for Strengthening Families Georgia. Additionally, Cheryl is CEO/president of Reach TLS, LLC an educational consulting firm.

Keyword Descriptors

Children and families, Parent connection, Community Partnerships, Supporting Families, Child Abuse Prevention, Protective factors, Parenting, Child Development, Parent resources

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-9-2016 11:15 AM

End Date

3-9-2016 12:30 PM

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Mar 9th, 11:15 AM Mar 9th, 12:30 PM

Empowering Families To Reduce The “Risk” for At-Risk Children

Savannah

Families often face challenges that compromise their ability to put the needs of children first. We must discard the “us vs. them” mentality and adopt productive ways to work differently with families. Educators and agency leaders will examine a practical framework for promoting the healthy development of young children that incorporates factors for strengthening the families we serve.