The DECA Program: A Spotlight on Outcomes
From Alyssa Ciarlante, M.A. | Research Associate
At the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC), our mission is to promote social and emotional development, foster resilience, and build skills for school and life success in children birth through five years old, as well as to promote the resilience of the adults who care for them. The DECA Program promotes positive outcomes among children, staff and entire programs by supporting resilience-building practices. It is our hope that, when an early childhood program’s mission, values and policies are in line with its practices to promote resilience and social and emotional health, the DECA Program will help create positive short-term and long-term outcomes at these three levels.
By focusing on the explicit development of within-child protective factors through the DECA Program assessments and aligned strategies, as well as the importance of cultivating resilience-building relationships, classrooms and communities, the DECA Program supports a number of positive short-term and long-term child outcomes. A program which promotes resilience and social and emotional competence in children leads to more developed social-emotional skills, such as increased levels of initiative, improved relationship skills and healthy attachment, and better self-regulation in moments of excitement or stress. Promoting within-child protective factors can also lead to decreases in instances of challenging behavior and increases in school readiness. Promoting resilience and social-emotional competence in an early childhood program contributes to a long-term child impact, which includes greater success in school, enhanced resilience in the face of change or misfortune, and greater happiness over the course of children’s lives.
By helping programs cultivate resilience-building environments, the DECA Program also supports a number of positive program outcomes, both short-term and long-term. Tools that promote quality environments, such as the CAREgiving Checklist and Reflective Checklist, help programs reflect on their efforts to promote resilience, supporting quality improvement over time. These reflective practices can lead to a number of program outcomes, such as increased use of the environment, activities, and routines to promote resilience and improved social interactions between staff, children and families. These contribute to a long-term program impact that includes higher quality programming and increased family engagement.
Finally, through the DECA Program, programs can support positive short-term and long-term outcomes among adults – both educators and parents. Use of DCRC resources, such as the Devereux Adult Resilience Survey (DARS) and the Building Your Bounce adult resilience journal, can help educators and parents better understand their own personal strengths and learn techniques to build their own resilience. Adult resilience-building is associated with a number of positive adult outcomes, such as an increased ability to self-reflect, strengthened adult protective factors related to resilience, and reduced stress; and contributes to a long-term adult impact which includes reduced educator turnover, overall workforce wellness, and happiness. Adults who are more resilient and socially and emotionally competent are also better able to cultivate an environment that promotes child resilience and social and emotional health, and are thus better able to support positive outcomes at the program and child levels.
To learn more about the DECA Program, click here. You can also register to join us for a free, one-hour webinar on Thursday, June 7th at 2:00pm (EST). In this webinar, new and long-time DECA users alike will have an opportunity to reflect on how to create a DECA Program Implementation Plan or how to rejuvenate existing DECA practices. Learn more and/or register.