What is the DECA Program? The DECA Program is a strength-based assessment and planning system for children ages 2-5. Based on resilience theory, this comprehensive system is made up of a 5-step system designed to support early childhood teachers, mental health professionals, and parents in their goal of helping children develop healthy social/emotional skills and reduce challenging behaviors. Central to the DECA Program is the DECA, a standardized, strength-based assessment of within-child protective factors and screener for behavior concerns. The Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY) recently provided a very positive review of the DECA. The 5-step system supports use of the DECA by parents and teachers alike in order to recognize and plan for the strengths and goals related to strong resilience for each child.
Step 1:Collect Information Prior to completing the DECA, programs are encouraged to gather information on the quality of the classroom. The DECA Program provides a simple, yet useful, tool for teachers and/or supervisors to reflect on the quality of the classroom. In addition, running records observations are conducted on all children in the classroom prior to completing the assessment. Social emotional skills need to be observed in order to accurately complete the standardized assessment. The Observation Journal provides reproducible resources that assist in this, and other, steps in the DECA Program system.
Step 2:Administer DECA After a recommended period of four weeks of collecting information on the classroom quality and individual children, the DECA is then completed by both a teacher and parent(s). Information on the technical properties of the DECA is provided in the Technical Manual . The assessment can be completed either on paper or using the web-based electronic format.
Step 3:Summarize and Interpret Results The User’s Guide provides information on obtaining standard scores for each individual child. Information on how to compare results between parent and teacher ratings is provided in order to examine discrepancies in the child’s behavior at home and at school. A Classroom Profile is also part of this step, helping the teacher, consultant, and supervisor view protective factors and behavior concerns of the classroom at a glance.
Step 4:Develop and Implement Plans Universal planning strategies for the entire class, as well as targeted strategies for individual children with concerns are introduced through the use of the Classroom Strategies guide. Strategies for planning in the home environment are available in the parent guide, For Now and Forever.
Step 5: Evaluate Progress Outcome data is obtained for children using the Pre-Post Tables, as well as ongoing observations and planning at the universal and targeted levels.
Ordering the DECA Program Kit
If you are interested in placing an order for the DECA Program Kit please visit the Kaplan webiste. (Search keyword: DECA)