My experience with Office of Head Start programs began in 2015 as an Early Childhood Mental Health consultant. I learned in that role just how vital it is for Early Childhood programs to provide quality early childhood services that promote school readiness, encourage family and community engagement, and – most importantly – build resilience in families, children, and staff.
The Traumatic Stress Institute (TSI) recently offered a National Early Head Start/Head Start webinar focused on what trauma-informed care can do for their programs. Interest came from across the country, including grant recipients representing 8 different states. We discussed the importance of addressing trauma in young children, families, and staff; TSI team members shared their own experiences in working closely with Early Head Start/Head Start programs; and we reviewed how trauma-informed best practices can serve as protective factors to build resilience.
A number of participants voiced a hearty "YES!" to this work, understanding intuitively that sustained trauma-informed care practices can have such a positive, lasting impact on schools, communities, and health service agencies. There was also appreciation for the focus the TSI Whole-System Change Model puts on staff well-being as a key piece of our training.
As a member of the Traumatic Stress Institute, it was a humbling experience to share our approach to trauma-informed care and its importance to Early Head Start/Head Start programs across the country. I'm hopeful that grant recipients are able to join us to learn more about our Whole-System Change Model and consider how we can partner to strengthen their program services to meet the needs of families and their children at risk, while addressing staff's own lived experiences through a trauma lens.