In honor of the Week of the Young Child, April 2-8, we are sending a big love note to all Early Head Start staff who bring babies into the program, support them and their families, and lay a strong foundation for learning. We hope you all celebrate Week of the Young Child in collaboration with all of the programs in your community that support young children, including your public schools and other child care providers. It’s the perfect time to come together and raise awareness about the importance of what we do to support the youngest learners.
It is also important to note that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and at Head Start, we take the issue of child abuse and maltreatment very seriously. During this important awareness month, we will focus on four related areas of the Head Start Program Performance Standards.
- Safety Practices
Safety practices, including safe facilities and equipment, background checks for everyone hired, and even hygiene, are part of child wellness. These factors are important, both in your program and in children’s homes. We must give safety practices attention to meet a high standard that ensures children are getting the care that they need and deserve.
- Standards of Conduct
It is important to establish standards of conduct that make expectations for behavior clear. Do not assume that everyone has a shared understanding—this needs to be explicit. Keep dual language in mind and support staff whose first language is not English to ensure that procedures and standards of conduct are clear to all.
- Training and Professional Development
Training and professional development also play a role when we think about the potential for child abuse or maltreatment. Training on classroom management, working with children with special needs, responding to challenging behaviors, especially in moments of stress, are essential. Oftentimes incidents of maltreatment occur when an adult doesn't know how to react to something, and they're response ends up being dangerous for a child. Preparing adults for such situations is important for prevention.
- Mandated Reporting
Everyone in your program, anybody who has the potential to cross paths with a child and suspects child abuse or maltreatment is a mandated reporter. And that is a lot of responsibility. Without appropriate training, folks may be unsure what to do, which can lead to bad outcomes. Staff need to feel confident about this responsibility and understand the requirement. They shouldn’t be nervous that someone will judge them for reporting and they should know that reporting does not mean you are directly accusing anyone of anything. The job is simply to report, and then folks who are trained to investigate will do so. This can be difficult, but remember that it is in the best interest of children.
In Case You Didn't Know
The Early Head Start Rising Summer Learning Series is back! Last year was a success with six weeks of incredible learning focused solely on Early Head Start. Here's what's in store this year:
- June 1 - The Future of Early Learning is Relational
- June 8 - Neuro-Nurturing® Everyday… It Makes a Difference!
- June 15 - Human Superpower to Overcome Trauma
- June 22 - COVID-19 Impact on Infants and Toddlers
- July 7 - Preventing Picky Eating from First Bites
- July 13 - El Desarrollo del Habla y del Lenguaje: Cómo Fortalecer el Apoyo de Los Niños Bilingües (This webinar will be in Spanish.)
- The National Head Start Conference is coming up May 2-5 in Baltimore, Maryland. We are excited to be in person to see each other and celebrate.
- Then the Leadership Education and Development Summit (LEADS) will be at the end of June, and that will be a virtual event.
CDA at the Academy
NHSA’s CDA for Infants and Toddlers just launched and is going well! We now have a waiting list, so if you’re interested, check it out.