From Rachel Wagner, MSW, National Trainer and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist
In the summer of 2016, a grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware was received by the Ministry of Caring Child Care Centers to begin implementing the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) Program. The Ministry of Caring is a community-based nonprofit organization that provides a network of social, health, and support services for those living in poverty, including the homeless and working poor, in the greater Wilmington, Delaware area (click here to learn more about this organization). Our team at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC) worked with the Ministry of Caring team to create a two-year plan which included professional development, technical assistance, and resources needed to successfully implement the DECA Program across three centers for approximately 150 children.
In early September of 2016, I had the honor of providing the first Two-Day DECA Birth to Five Implementation Training to the Ministry of Caring Staff. I met a team of hardworking and dedicated professionals committed to the often under-supported babies, toddler, preschoolers, and families they served. While already weary from the demands of their work (including quality initiatives and curriculum requirements), they were enthusiastic about this new endeavor to promote resilience in children. After training the staff, I was able to return to Delaware in late September to provide a Three-Day DECA Birth to Five Local Program Mentor (LPM) Training to the core leadership of Ministry of Caring. LPM training is designed to build capacity within a leadership team so that they will be able to truly support the implementation of DECA over the course of the year and beyond.
At the LPM training, the core leadership team amazed me with their insights and dedication. Paulette Annane, Program Manager, led the team to develop a comprehensive year-long DECA implementation plan that included social/emotional quality improvement efforts, assessing each child, family partnership, and individualized planning to promote resilience. The plan they developed was thorough, thoughtful, and impressive. What impressed me further was their commitment to following the plan. In my regular check-ins over the course of the year, Paulette and the team stayed on track with their plan. And their commitment showed when the end of the year post-DECA results came in.
Children assessed by Ministry of Caring during the 2016–2017 program year showed a statistically significant improvement in their overall within-child protective factors from the beginning to the end of the program year when rated by teachers (n=76). The bar graph below provides DECA descriptive categories (Strength, Typical, and Area of Need) for this program’s Total Protective Factors (TPF) as rated by teachers at pretest and posttest. National DECA data is also presented for comparison purposes. The percentage of children assessed by Ministry of Caring with overall protective factors in the Strength range increased by 158% (25.0 percentage points) from pretest to posttest, while the percentage of children in the Area of Need range decreased by 90% (11.9 percentage points) from pretest to posttest, indicating positive improvements in children’s overall protective factors during the program year. By posttest, nearly all of the children assessed by Ministry of Caring demonstrated strong to typical levels of within-child protective factors, as rated by teachers. Children assessed by Ministry of Caring also showed statistically significant improvements in the three protective factor domains measured by the DECA, as well as decreases on the Behavioral Concerns Screener, across the program year, when rated by teachers. While children did not show statistically significant improvement when rated by parents, scores trended in the same direction on a near-universal basis. *Report generated by Alyssa Ciarlante, Research Associate, DCRC.
On August 18, 2017, the Delaware Online News Journal reported on the Ministry of Caring’s initiative to promote resilience in children. To check out their article, click here.
With the success of year one under their belts, the team has developed their plan for year two and we are excited to see all the resilience-building possibilities to come! Thank you to the entire team at Ministry of Caring for your dedication and hard work on behalf of children and families. Great work!