Improving the quality of early childhood education in communities across America has been the focus of my professional career for over 40 years. Ensuring that teaching staff value and know how to use the early childhood setting to promote children’s social and emotional competence is a critical element of high-quality care, and one that the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC) resources support. Based on solid research findings, I am a strong advocate for including DCRC assessment and strategy resources in early childhood quality building initiatives. In addition to the quantitative data that documents the gains in children’s social and emotional functioning, conversations with teachers have convinced me that teachers and parents are also being positively impacted by these resources. For programs looking to strengthen their focus on children’s social and emotional health and resilience, the DCRC resources have much to contribute.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful opportunity to attend the DECA-C (Clinical) training last week. One of our senior therapists told me afterwards that she felt truly refreshed and re-energized with what she learned. Beyond learning and applying the DECA-C, the trainer was able to show how to implement the tool in both childcare and home settings. She also shared strategies for engaging and sustaining families, as well as recognizing the “emotionally evocative” nature of our work. I think it was significant that she came from both an early education and social work (MSW) background, and was able to bridge into the therapeutic application of the DECA-C for the children and their parents as well. The other good news is that the scoring is now available through a web-based platform (the e-DECA), so it is likely we will be able to use the tool with greater ease and efficiency. Trainings like these are helping to build the core knowledge that will sustain our early childhood mental health programs. Your efforts are appreciated!
I write this letter to indicate may full and enthusiastic support for the collaborative Allentown School District project on social and emotional learning that is being coordinated and led by the Devereux Foundation. Under the direction of Dr. Paul LeBuffe, Director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, this collaborative project has been highly successful to date. The Allentown Schools have successfully initiated a major transformation in their model of education by infusing social and emotional learning curriculum into grades PreK to Grade 8. Conducting such a transformative curricular innovation is courageous and replete with problems of implementation and support. However, with Devereux’s excellent, consistent leadership this initiative in ending its second year of successful operation.
Within the mental health sector, it can be challenging to find tools that build on the strengths of the individual. The DECA and DECA-C are user-friendly tools that make it easy to speak with parents and providers about the needs of children. The grounding in resiliency and the positive social-emotional outcomes we are seeing are having an impact on our program planning and community as a whole. We are so pleased with the DECA Program in our preschool services, we have started to use the DESSA tool for our early intervention program with schools, specifically outcomes within our Tools for Life Relationship-Building Solutions Program.
I must say that of all of the resources that I have been exposed to, the DECA Program is the most exciting. Plus, I like the idea that it focuses on prevention and forms a working relationship between the parent and the teacher. Everyone I talk to in Cleveland who knows about this resource says that it works and they just love it.
Partnering with Devereux has been invaluable in expanding our understanding about building resiliency in children and adults in our school community. The diligence, curiosity, and intuitiveness with which Paul LeBuffe and his team approach researching and refining SEL assessment tools has benefited Anchorage School District staff and students enormously.
The DECA Program has made it possible to promote children’s resilience, provide caregivers with research-based assessment and strategy resources, and track progress for thousands of children across the state. The outcome data confirms that implementation of the DECA Program has been a sound investment for the state of Ohio.
Using the DECA has allowed the Washington State Department of Early Learning to show positive social and emotional outcomes in our state pre-kindergarten program. This data confirms what I believe the children across this state need: High-quality early childhood programs that focus on children’s social and emotional well-being.
It all began with basic DECA Program training and we took that information and ran with it. Years later, we use the DECA Program and the many resources offered through the Devereux Center for Resilient Children to help us promote resiliency in the children we serve, to help us support the child care teachers we work with, and to help encourage parents who use our services. Our agency has fully embraced the DECA Program and the resources available have made this all possible. The decrease in behavior concerns reported by our child care teachers and the data we collect confirms the significance of the work we are doing and makes it all worthwhile!