EveryChild expands mental health training for early childhood educators

Moline, Ill. (KWQC) – EveryChild, a nonprofit formerly known as the Child Abuse Council, is expanding its mental health training for teachers. It’s part of the organization’s efforts to reach more children, families, and early childhood educators.

EveryChild will hire a new full-time licensed therapist to offer mental health training and consultation services for more pre-kindergarten teachers through its Safe from the Start program.

“Training teachers on how to support their students’ mental health is a core component of this well-rounded program,” said Mark Mathews, EveryChild’s executive director. “We’re committed to taking a proactive stance to promote safe, healthy childhoods, and we’re excited to see more of our community’s teachers and children benefit from these services.”

EveryChild says in the first phase, six teachers attend an intensive two-day workshop before spending up to eight weeks applying the training’s principles and skills with a child during one-on-one play sessions observed by program staff. The second phase includes up to six weeks of classroom observations and coaching sessions. Ultimately, teachers learn to foster healthy connections with students, enhance classroom culture, and set the stage for their students’ long-term well-being.

“When it comes to teaching kids things like ABCs or how to count to 10, teachers have better skills than anyone, but in early childhood, it’s also about learning how to recognize feelings, how to share, how to cope,” said Program Manager Emily Cummings. “If we can provide teachers the tools to be confident in fostering these skills during that critical zero-to-five window, students will be much more likely to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”

According to Cummings, the skills imparted by CTRT benefit children no matter what they’ve experienced. “When we promote infant and early childhood mental health in classrooms, we’re saying that every child can benefit from the ability to play, learn, grow, and work well with others,” she said.

“There aren’t always obvious signs or behaviors when kids have been exposed to trauma, and anything can be traumatic for them,” added Paula Jaeger, the EveryChild therapist who originally introduced CTRT to the organization four years ago. “Maybe they’ve experienced a house fire, witnessed road rage, or are struggling with all the abrupt changes and stress of COVID. We’re equipping teachers to nurture supportive relationships and help all their students recognize and respond to their feelings so they can grow up healthy. I love watching the kids build their confidence and self-esteem—the positive interactions just snowball.”

Teachers and childcare centers interested in CTRT training this year should contact Cummings at EmilyC@ForEveryChild.org.

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