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Healthy Social Behaviors: North Carolina’s Statewide Initiative and Use of the DECA Program Resources

by Margaret Mobley, HSB Statewide Project Manager

Promoting Healthy Social Behaviors in Child Care Centers is a statewide initiative of the North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Council funded by the NC Division of Child Development. Begun in 2005, the primary goal of the Healthy Social Behaviors initiative (HSB) is to prevent and address the challenging behaviors of children enrolled in child care centers in North Carolina by systematically and intentionally promoting the social-emotional health of these young children. The project is designed to:

  • modify adult behavior and early childhood environments to ensure promotion of social-emotional competencies and prevention of challenging behavior;
  • partner with child care teachers to determine and implement intervention strategies to address challenging behaviors;
  • assist staff and parents in finding appropriate resources for children who require additional intervention assistance; and
  • reduce the number of expulsions of children due to challenging behaviors from client centers.

Twenty-five behavior specialists, housed in regional CCR&R agencies across North Carolina, provide evidence-based, research-based and relationship-based technical assistance and training to early care and education staff.  Behavior specialists work with teachers to make programmatic and personal changes to create nurturing relationships and supportive environments within the classroom.  Universal strategies are implemented in the classroom to facilitate social-emotional health of all children and targeted interventions are designed for children at risk for expulsions due to their behaviors. DECA materials are used to guide classroom-level strategies and to inform individual plans for children most at risk for expulsion.

Since 2005, HSB specialists have provided technical assistance in over 2,000 preschool classrooms in North Carolina.  In these classrooms, which collectively provide care and education to almost 30,000 children, 630 children continued to exhibit challenging behaviors after universal social-emotional classroom supports were in place. DECA results were used to craft a plan of intervention to support each of these children in developing the skills needed to be successful in their preschool settings and maintain their child care placements.  Over 97% of these 630 children were able to remain in their child care placements after implementation of child-specific behavior support plans. Additionally, of the 3,700 teacher served since 2005, 98% have reported they are better able to address challenging behaviors in their classrooms as a result of Healthy Social Behaviors’ programmatic mental health consultation.

The key resources used for HSB training, consultation and outcome measurement include: DECA, Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) materials; Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQ:SE); Partnership for Inclusion’s Child Care Consultation Model; and Facing the Challenge DVD training series, which has been adopted as the standardized training provided by behavior specialists to North Carolina’s early care and education workforce.

Contact: Margaret Mobley, HSB Statewide Project Manager mmobley@childcareresourcesinc.org

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