“We would be willing to do whatever we can to help spread this around.”
A program in Massachusetts aims to provide training on trauma-informed care for early educators.
It’s called Readying Educators and Developing Young Children for Great Outcomes (READYGO). The first cohort of early educators enrolled in the program is in the midst of the second of two courses on creating trauma-informed learning environments and behavioral-management skills.
Joe Diamond, executive director of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, whose member agencies run Head Start school-readiness programs for low-income families with children below school-age, helped develop READYGO.
“We’ve known for quite some time now that trauma is a factor in how children are able to grow and thrive in early-education care settings,” Diamond explained. “We’ve heard from early educators and others that there is a need for education and trauma-informed care.”
Diamond emphasized the goal for the project is not only to develop, test and evaluate the courses, but to make them part of the early education and care system and offer them at community colleges statewide.
Ranjani Paradise, director of evaluation at the Institute for Community Health, does research and program evaluation. Her group conducted a focus group and found many educators who have completed the first course said with the pandemic, it has given them new skills and tools, even those who have been teaching for more than 10 years.
“I think this is really timely, because educators were really saying, with the pandemic, there are all these new challenges and new traumas that families are going through that are popping up,” Paradise observed. “And then recognizing how to care for yourself as a teacher in the way that makes you then the best prepared to care for the children in the classroom.”
Paradise added the course is also giving educators the opportunity to reflect on ways their biases and background can affect the children they work with.
Jim Vander Hooven, president of MWCC, echoed how vital the courses have become with many early-childhood care centers having been closed or at limited capacity for so many months. He hopes more colleges will start offering similar courses.
“I think that this needs to be a very heavy emphasis point for all early-childhood education programs,” Vander Hooven urged. “We would be willing to do whatever we can to help spread this around so that more of our early-childhood educators are entering the field with these skills.”