Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies
Date Submitted: 09/08/2021
Paula A. Brown Head Start Collaboration Office Director
Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies
605 Centennial Blvd., Edmond, OK 73013
Rating Category: Well-Supported by Research
Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning
Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Administrators, Parents
Goals and Outcomes:
The overall goal of the proposed work is to improve the social emotional development of young children in Oklahoma in any licensed childcare program. We will reach this goal by ensuring Oklahoma early childhood practitioners, in partnership with families, have the knowledge, skills, disposition and supports, based on Pyramid Model practices, to nurture infants and young children’s social emotional well-being within their family, culture, and community. We will use a cohesive, effective approach to promoting young children’s social emotional development, addressing the needs of young children with challenging behaviors and special needs in an integrated model of tiered support that aligns with social and person skills concept area of Oklahoma’s early learning guidelines. For this project, the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies, in partnership with the Pyramid Model Consortium and the Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, will address six objectives: 1) Enhancing the capacity of the early childhood workforce to adopt the Pyramid Model; 2) Increasing the number of high-quality Pyramid Model trainers and coaches; 3) Developing a high-fidelity program-wide/community-wide implementation sites; 4) Partnering with families to enhance skills and strategies to support their children; 5) Increasing children’s pro-social skills and reducing challenging behavior; 6) Preventing and severely limiting expulsion and suspension in early childhood settings. The Pyramid Model is a conceptual framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children’s social and emotional competence and for preventing and addressing challenging behavior. It was developed 20 years ago with funding from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human and of Education, with an extensive research base on its efficacy and its implementation (using Implementation Science). The work will provide training, support and technical assistance, integrated with existing state initiatives (e.g., Project Hope work, trauma informed care) to ensure its success in Oklahoma. The proposal builds on Oklahoma’s Pyramid Model work already underway. The state created a cross-sector State Leadership Team to implement the Pyramid Model through professional development, local implementation sites, and a plan to evaluate the work. Our target population is children and families served by licensed childcare facilities in Oklahoma, including centers, Head Start/EHS, and family child care homes.
Brief Summary of target population and issues/challenges:
In targeting licensed child care, we will identify and recruit implementation sites from these facilities with a priority on those serving economically disenfranchised or historically marginalized communities. Young children’s behavioral health is a critical aspect of development and strongly associated with school readiness. The proposed work will address social emotional needs of young children by helping children develop skills to manage emotions and create strong relationships with adults and peers, skills highlighted in Oklahoma’s Early Learning Guidelines. But some children struggle. Up to 15% of preschoolers have behavior problems; percentages are higher for children living in poverty or with disabilities. Implicit bias in some settings lead to a disproportionate number of children of color, specifically black boys, being expelled or suspended. Our approach to address social emotional needs of young children is based on the Pyramid Model because it represents a compelling research-based approach to promote social emotional competence in young children. It includes practices that address cultural factors influencing social emotional development and support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. These practices, identified through a systematic review of the research, align to the model’s three levels creating a multi-tiered system of support. The Pyramid Model provides a program-wide/community-wide approach. Using a concrete implementation process, informed by Implementation Science (their lead researcher called the Pyramid Model among the best examples of implementation), targeted child care licensed facilities will develop the capacity to train and coach staff to fidelity on the practices and measure their implementation and outcomes to assure success. Our confidence in this approach is based 20 years of work, preparing 35,000 trainers and 15,000 coaches, training 750,000 providers, and reaching over 5 million children. The work has been replicated, sustained, and scaled up across every kind of early childhood setting, in 35 states and 50 countries.