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Connecticut Prepares Consultants to Work with Infants and Toddlers
Professional Development, Child Care, Early Head Start, Quality Improvement, Professional Development
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ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
Connecticut’s Head Start Collaboration Office and Department of Social Services Child Care Team are partnering to ensure that consultants working with Early Head Start and child care programs serving infants and toddlers have the knowledge and skills they need to be effective. For the past several years, the two agencies have participated in collaborative efforts with five other New England states and the National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative to develop an infant-toddler curriculum for consultants from multiple disciplines, including health, mental health, and education. The three training modules focus on relationships; screening and assessment; and curriculum and individualization.
Connecticut piloted the use of the modules three times during their development, delivering the training to fourteen multi-disciplinary teams. In addition to consultants, some teams included programs’ lead teachers and directors, Part C professionals, and/or nurses. A multiple-day format over four or seven months was used. Participants built their teaming skills by participating in case studies and hearing from graduate teams about how an integrated approach has improved their effectiveness.
In addition to improving participants’ understanding of very young children’s needs, the training has been shown to increase communication and teamwork among consultants, resulting in more consistent messaging to providers and collaborative support to children and their families. Programs receiving consultation from graduate teams have exhibited positive outcomes as well, including an increase in the hiring of highly qualified staff, development of more policies specific to infants and toddlers, and increased Part C enrollment.
Though budget limitations prevented Connecticut from offering multi-disciplinary consultant training this year, the state is moving forward with plans to broaden the reach of the infant-toddler modules. For example, the Head Start Collaboration Office and Department of Social Services Child Care Team offered a one-day institute on the modules and the state’s Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers to higher education faculty in April. The state is also working with the other New England states to test an online version of the modules.