Lakeside Connect is a blog purposed to dialogue about issues that impact our children and teenagers. I have just completed a lengthy set of posts on child and adult trauma. One thing I surfaced in those posts was the ACE study which describes the correlations between adverse child events and many health, financial, emotional and relational problems. The ACE study’s documention reveals amazing statistical implications, some we see occur from systems. Therefore, we next need to look at the powerful influence systems have on our children.
The family system, the educational system and the early childhood education system
As we examine the most powerful influences in the lives of our children, we will be drawn to several important systems. The first and most obvious is the individual family system. Another is the American educational system, with at least 12 years of consistent impact. However, in the past few decades, another significant force has earned prominance in the U.S., the Early Childhood Education (ECE) system.
Millions of children are placed in early childhood centers that can be both state-funded and privately owned. The ECE centers range from exceptional and well-equipped to those that are underfunded and poorly staffed. Due to the number of single parents who are in the workplace and the number of families with both parents working, the need for childcare has soared. While some parents can find family members who will help, most are forced to rely on community early childhood centers for the care of their children from infancy until kindergarten-age.
These ECE centers act as the children’s second homes. They spend most of their day at the ECE being taught, nurtured and cared for by early childhood professionals who become major influencers in their lives. Particularly in light of the research we now have regarding the brain, physical, emotional and relational development that occurs from ages one-to-four, the caregivers for these children play an impressive role in our children’s growth and development.
The ECE community in Philadelphia
Lakeside has a strong relationship with our ECE community in Philadelphia, to provide professional development training for ECE staff. We have been extremely fortunate to have United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Independence Blue Cross become sponsors of a large movement of training and support to hundreds of leaders and staff members of ECE Centers in the Greater Philadelphia Area. As many children are influenced by these professionals, we feel it is important that these staff members and leaders have a forum for receiving training, exchanging dialogue and experiencing nurture as well.
While diverse educational standards exist for school teachers, we have not yet ascribed national standards for our early childhood professionals. As I converse with ECE centers in our area, I hear caregivers express several frustrations. They understand and seek training and additional support to work effectively with groups of children from varied backgrounds.
Also consider the number of inner-city children who have experienced trauma who are placed in ECE centers. These children desperately need caregivers who are trauma-informed and trauma-competent, who know how and where to get help. Trauma-informed care is just one example of issues facing our early childhood educators.
There is much to talk about in this growing field of care for our children. Since early life is critically valuable to our children, I will plan the next few posts to dialogue on this important topic. Thanks for reading Lakeside Connect. I appreciate your time and effort to understand the information that I believe is so vital to our children and their families.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network