The Early Years Project
In 2011 the City of Cambridge identified the need for a creative solution that would help support young children who were being expelled from child care centers due to emotional and behavioral challenges. In response, Riverside partnered with The City of Cambridge Human Services, school departments, and several community organizations to address the growing trend.
The result is an extremely unique and successful model called the Early Years Project. The Early Years Project supports early childhood care providers and parents to better meet the developmental, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of these children. The goal is to provide teachers at the child care centers with the information and training they need to help keep these little ones in their programs.
Working directly with the staff in infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms, we share knowledge regarding:
- Early childhood development
- Infant mental health
- Classroom management strategies and techniques
- Technology designed to foster young children’s social and emotional growth
The Early Years Project team focuses on building the providers’ ability to collaborate with parents/caregivers. We strive to increase the daily communication between the parents and teachers for the child’s benefit. In addition, we seek to develop the caregivers’ observational and interpersonal skills in their classrooms. In partnership with these providers, our team provides recommendations for individual children, classroom dynamics, and curriculum. Also, we assist in modeling child management strategies and classroom best practices.
As a result, The Early Years Project has supported 41 of the 99 child care programs in Cambridge in the past two years. We have also responded to 173 requests; of which 68% were child-specific consultations, 5% were general classroom observations, and 27% were requests for resources, referrals, director or teacher support, and workshops. Together with the Cambridge Public Schools, and the multiple partners at Cambridge Health Alliance, this team is a true powerhouse in representing what quality community-based child care is all about.
~Shannon Sorenson, Vice President of Child and Family Services