By Rachelle Soden, Training Manager, Kansas Children’s Service League.
Originally published in the Spring 2021 Issue of Kansas Child Magazine.
Connections matter in early childhood. Early care and education professionals — including child care providers, preschool teachers, and alternative caregivers — shape the future for our children, our community, and our nation. Their work is tremendously important, given that early childhood experiences influence our brains, our health, and our chance to learn and succeed later in life. The key to healthy brain development is healthy relationships.
When a child experiences powerful stress without the support of a warm, caring adult — especially if that stress happens often or lasts a long time — it can become toxic, affecting their development and lifelong health. Fortunately, the presence of a caring adult can help mitigate negative effects and teach coping skills and resiliency. Positive and secure relationships with alternative caregivers, like child care providers and preschool teachers, can protect against trauma, promote good behaviors, and improve lifelong health.
The Connections Matter Kansas project is administered by Prevent Child Abuse Kansas at the Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL), whose mission is to protect and promote the well-being www.ks.childcareaware.org of children. KCSL uses evidence-based programming in the areas of health, safety, and education to help children and families succeed and break cycles of neglect, abuse and trauma. These programs help both children and parents develop skills for success in their families, schools, and workplaces. KCSL recently received funding through the All in for Kansas Kids Quality Subgrants, which focus on developing and implementing new approaches to help children and families thrive. This funding is being used to launch the Connections Matter training curriculum.
Connections Matter is designed to engage early care and education professionals, parents, caregivers, and community members in building caring connections to improve well-being. Greater social connectedness strengthens families and reduces the likelihood that child abuse will occur.
Connections Matter workshops offer easily digestible information on:
- Current brain science research
- The implications of toxic stress on brain development, learning, and behavior
- The importance of supportive, trusting relationships in mitigating the impact of trauma and fostering the development of resiliency
- Resources for implementing trauma- informed practices
The Connections Matter training will soon be available for early care and education professionals. If you would like to schedule a training for your group or region or be added to the training notification list, please contact Rachelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit connectionsmatter.org/kansas.
Rachelle Soden is the Training Manager at the Kansas Children’s Service League, the state chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America. She has been providing child abuse prevention education to Kansas communities for more than 20 years.