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Initiated in the fall of 2018, Champaign County Head Start designed new a role, called the Social Skills and Prevention Coach. Through generous funding from the Champaign County Mental Health Board, we have been able to hire three new staff to fill this role. The new staff are supervised by an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant and are housed at 3 of our sites. At each site, the coach supports the development of social-emotional skills in our students through strength based trauma informed practices. Prioritizing prevention, the coaches provide ongoing Practice Based Coaching focused on the Pyramid Model’s social-emotional skills and indicators. They provide strength based -reflective support for staff, collect behavior related data, build relationships with families, and help anticipate the need for preventative transition support for students. The coaches also facilitate the social-emotional development of students through social skills focused guidance lessons, friendship groups; push-in individual positive behavior modeling and de-escalation support when necessary.

Within two months of filling the new positions, we doubled the number of children served within the previous year’s first quarter and more than doubled the amount of services and supports these children, families, and teachers have received.

Beyond numbers we have seen improvements in individual children’s social and emotional skills for example, ability to calm down and self-regulate, ability to share and take turns, ability to communicate about their feelings. We have also seen improvement in staff morale and engagement.