Circle of Security pilot positively impacted provider’s mental health and relationships with children, according to initial evaluation

Julia Susan Dioses 249This fall, All Our Kin offered 35 licensed family child care providers in New Haven and Fairfield counties the opportunity to participate in a pilot project using the Circle of Security-Parenting curriculum. The Circle of Security program is designed to help caregivers develop an understanding of young children’s need for connection and form secure relationships with children. Although the discussion-based program is already in wide use with parents, it had never before been offered to family child care providers.  Today, we are excited to announce the initial findings from an evaluation of the project, conducted by Dr. Sarah Gray, formerly a Psychology Fellow in Early Childhood at the Yale Child Study Center and now an Assistant Professor at Tulane University.

According to Gray, “both qualitative and quantitative data suggest strong impacts from the Circle of Security project on providers’ mental health, their sense of self-efficacy and competence, their capacities for managing challenging behavior, and their relationships with children in their care.” Specifically, a quantitative pre/post survey found that providers felt better equipped to manage children’s challenging behaviors after participating in the program (with a large effect size), and that providers mean depression score decreased after the intervention (with a medium effect size). Qualitatively, 94% of providers reported that participation decreased their stress level; 97% reported that they viewed the behavior of children in their care differently; and 94% reported that the behavior of children in their care “is better” or “is much better” following their participation in the program.

In their qualitative questionnaires, providers reported that Circle of Security has helped them better manage children’s challenging behaviors and attend to their needs. “I now understand that I need to take the time to figure out why a child is behaving the way he/she is and to address that need and give my full attention to the child,” said one provider. “I am more patient and extremely tolerant,” said another. “I take more time to know and understand why children behave the way they do.” These testimonials speak to Circle of Security’s deep impact on provider’s responsive caregiving practices and the relationships that providers are forming with children.

We know how essential secure relationships are to children’s well-being, and we know that family child care providers are well-positioned to offer young children the secure attachments they need. Our family child care providers often spend 8-10 hours a day with the children in their care, and they play an absolutely fundamental role in children’s development. We are excited that this initial evaluation suggests that the Circle of Security pilot has given our providers the tools and knowledge to build stronger, more supportive relationships with the children in their care.

All Our Kin offered the Circle of Security program in partnership with the Connecticut State Office of Early Childhood. Consultation from the Yale Child Study Center supported All Our Kin’s programming and evaluation of the program’s effectiveness. A one-page summary of the Circle of Security project evaluation can be found here.

This post was written by Pavita Singh, a graduate student of the Yale School of Public Health and an intern at All Our Kin, and Rachel Wilf, All Our Kin’s Policy Fellow.

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