Helping professionals to better help children

More than a million neural connections are formed every second in a child’s first few years of life, and 85 percent of a child’s brain is fully developed by age 3. A combination of both in-home and out-of-home experiences can positively or negatively impact that development.

During this hypersensitive period of development, the relationships formed with parents and caregivers establish the foundation for all future development, including but not limited to intellectual, social, emotional, physical and behavioral.

Quality early care and education programs help children to become engaged in activities with responsive, nurturing adults that stimulate development and learning. These interactions prepare children to successfully enter kindergarten.

While Southwest Human Development offers many direct-service programs to families, the agency also provides a number of programs to support and guide professionals in the rapidly-evolving field of early childhood development.

SMART Support

Smart Support is a unique program that partners early childhood mental health consultants with child care providers to promote the social and emotional development of all children in care, and help providers respond to children with behavioral challenges.

The program is offered at no cost to eligible childcare providers to design an individualized plan to meet the needs of children in their programs. Services provided may include early childhood mental health consultation and professional development, implementation of classroom strategies and resources or referrals for specific children or situations. Plans may be short- or long-term, depending on the children care provider’s specific needs.

Smart Support mental health consultants have a masters-level degree in mental health or an early childhood field, and have specialized training in children’s social-emotional development and early care and education staff development.

Quality First

Quality First, Arizona’s Quality Improvement and Rating System, strives to improve the early care and education in Arizona to help young children begin school safe, healthy and ready to succeed. The program also provides families with information on selecting a quality early care and education setting for their young children.

Homes and child care centers participating in the Quality First program receive personalized support from a coach whose role is to help a program achieve and maintain quality. Coaches support enrolled child care providers in their efforts to achieve quality milestones by providing support including classroom management tips and techniques, curriculum guidance and ideas to strengthen family support.

CONSTRUCT Coaching Program

The Construct Coaching Program is an adaptive professional development coaching model that supports teachers and caregivers through data-informed, individualized interventions aimed at moving and sustaining high-quality teacher and caregiver practices with children ages birth to 5.

The Construct model is delivered over 12 months. During the 12-month implementation period, Construct adapted based on data-informed decisions through periodic, individual assessments. The Construct software serves to inform the coaching implementation dose, duration and the coaching strategies utilized. The Construct adaptive and evidence-based design promotes, maximizes and sustains high-quality teacher and caregiver practices for individualized success.

Following a Construct Professional Learning Community session, teachers and caregivers begin to receive two to four coaching visits each month. Teacher and caregiver data is collected and reviewed at regular intervals and adjustments to coaching interventions are implemented.

Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute

The Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute aims to help professionals understand and identify mental health challenges that can emerge in children as young as infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Leaving symptoms undiagnosed and untreated can result in school failure, child abuse, delinquency and mental illness as children grow into adults.

As one of a handful of prestigious Harris programs in the country, and the only one in the Southwest, the Harris Institute seeks to fill this knowledge gap through two state-of-the-art training programs. The Harris Institute offers a one-year program for an Infant/Family Studies Certificate and a two-year program for an Infant/Family Clinical Practice Certificate.

Early Care and Education Inclusion Program

Southwest Human Development’s Early Care and Education Inclusion Program is designed to help preschool and child care providers support children ages birth to 5 with developmental delays or disabilities in the classroom.

Inclusion coaches guide professionals in helping children with disabilities who are in regular education and child care classrooms and settings to give them the greatest opportunity to reach their fullest potential. The program offers strategies and support to teachers and caregivers to help individual children with special needs be successful in their early care and education setting.

At enrolled preschools or child care centers, inclusion coaches with early childhood and special needs expertise provides weekly coaching and training. With guidance, preschool and childcare providers are able to better assist with building and strengthening relationships, learn the strategies and skills to support children with special needs and help caregivers to support children meet goals through daily routines.