Our Approach

The Devereux Center for Resilient Children’s (DCRC’s) approach to fostering resilience in infants and toddlers is a comprehensive assessment and planning process that involves families and professionals working as partners.

The significant adults in a child’s life work together to collect information, including social and emotional screening and assessment data, and use the information to develop plans that promote children’s social and emotional skills and resilience. Families, educators, consultants and other significant adult caregivers continuously monitor, evaluate, and modify the plans as needed, ensuring positive outcomes are achieved for all children.

What We Do

DCRC provides strength-based assessments for infants and toddlers…

  • Devereux Early Childhood Assessment – Infant (DECA-I) for babies age 4 weeks through 18 months, and
  • Devereux Early Childhood Assessment – Toddler (DECA-T) for toddlers ages 19-36 months

… as well as strategy guides for families, teachers, home visitors, and other adults  involved in the lives of children to promote their healthy social and emotional development and resilience.

We also conduct  research and advocate on behalf of children, families and child-serving professionals.  DCRC provides professional development to help families and professionals use our resources  effectively. All our efforts and resources are based on resilience theory and help children and adults bounce back when faced with adversity.

The central concept of our approach is “looking through social and emotional lenses”, which recognizes that social and emotional skills and resilience are best developed through everyday interactions and experiences that are done with awareness and purpose – what is often referred to as mindfulness.

Why We Do What We Do

DCRC was created out of Devereux’s desire to promote the social and emotional well-being of all children. We believe that promoting resilience benefits all children because all children are likely to face adversity at some point in their life.

For children who are already experiencing social and emotional problems, the promotion of their resilience will be essential to their long-term success and happiness.

In order to provide quality, meaningful resources, services, and professional development, DCRC has remained true to these six underlying principles:

  • The strengths, happiness and resilience of all children:  DCRC recognizes that all children need a strong social and emotional foundation to be successful now and in the future. Children who are happy and have social and emotional strengths are more likely to be successful academically as well as socially
  • The well being of the adults who parent, nurture and educate children:  Young children’s healthy social and emotional development is strongly influenced by the health and well-being of the adults who care for them.
  • Strength-based approaches: Research confirms that promoting children’s social and emotional strengths reduces the development and escalation of behavioral concerns. DCRC resources identify and build on children’s strengths first, rather than focusing on deficit-based behaviors.
  • Strong partnerships between families and teachers, and other child-serving professionals:  Families and providers working together as a team to provide consistent, nurturing, developmentally appropriate care results in more positive outcomes for children.
  • Collaboration between the fields of early childhood and mental health to optimize positive outcomes:  Families, providers, specialists and other community resources professionals sharing knowledge and working as a team to understand and jointly determine how to best promote children’s healthy social and emotional development.
  • Data driven decision making:  Decisions about how to optimize a child’s social and emotional development must be based on reliable and valid information from multiple sources. The DCRC approach uses data to inform decisions and also track progress.

Whom We Help Through Our Approach

DCRC’s strength-based approach is prevention oriented, meaning that it is designed to benefit all children and the families and adults in their lives. Because all children benefit from strong protective factors, and because a child may face increased risk at any time, DCRC emphasizes the importance of building strong protective factors for all children and adults.

DCRC’s model emphasizes promotion, prevention, and intervention. We refer to the supports offered at these three levels as Universal, Targeted, and Expanded.

DCRC Model: Tiered Approach To Promoting Resilience In Infants And Toddlers

For those infants and toddlers whose protective factors are typical or strong, Universal strategies appropriate for all children are recommended. Universal strategies are implemented with all children in a group and include things like:

  • Implementing consistent routines and schedules, helping children feel a sense of trust and security in their lives
  • Speaking positively, ensuring that babies and toddlers feel cared for and loved
  • Engaging infants and toddlers in daily routines such as singing and talking during diaper changes, holding young infants while feeding them and following a child’s lead during floortime

For children whose protective factors are low, or whose behavioral concerns are high, Targeted strategies are recommended. For these children, Universal strategies are essential, but may not be sufficient to strengthen those protective factors that need additional support. Targeted strategies are focused on the specific needs of the at-risk child, can be implemented in the home and classroom settings, and may include thing like:

  • Break a task into small steps: Sometimes a young child will be more successful and will follow directions when an adult helps the child understand and follow each step in a task.
  • Provide comfort items that help a child to calm when upset
  • Redirection:  When you see a child about to make an inappropriate choice, help them to make a more appropriate choice by redirecting them to another activity.

And for those children who have already developed significant behavioral problems, DCRC recommends Expanded strategies in addition to the universal and targeted strategies.  Expanded strategies involve additional professionals with specialized training and skills like social workers, counselors, and speech and language therapists.

These infants and toddlers will of course also benefit from the universal and targeted strategies in place, but the services of other specially trained professionals may also be needed to fully understand and address the children’s needs.

How Our Approach Works

DCRC’s strength-based approach to assessment and planning programs consist of a five-step system to promote healthy social and emotional protective factors in children. The program includes assessment, a comprehensive planning framework, and strategies to help the child in both the home and school settings.

The Five Steps Of Our System

Step One: Collect Information

Step Two: Assess Each Child

Step Three: Summarize Results

Step Four: Develop and Implement Plans

Step Five: Evaluate Progress and Adjust

Through these five steps, DCRC’s approach works to assess and build resilience in the young child, as well as the group setting, surrounding environment(s), and caregivers that impact young children’s lives.

To implement DCRC’s approach for infants and toddlers, we provide many resources and professional development opportunities to those who support our youngest children.