New Federal Grant Invests $4M in Durham County to Improve Early Childhood Social-Emotional Development

Durham, N.C. [September 10, 2019] — Positive social-emotional development in early childhood is essential for lifelong health and well-being. For children who experience trauma or chronic adversity, those developmental processes are interrupted, increasing their risk for a range of negative outcomes from dropping out of school to developing diabetes and other chronic illnesses in adulthood.

The compelling data on the power of early social-emotional development to drive key life outcomes consistently arrive at one conclusion: those who serve young children in our community should be equipped to support healthy social-emotional development and to identify children with developmental concerns. Building such a comprehensive system is an ambitious, long-term undertaking, but a new five-year grant of $4 million will help Durham County make meaningful progress toward that vision.

The grant has been awarded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to the Center for Child and Family Health (CCFH), a Durham-based nonprofit with expertise in trauma-informed approaches to early childhood development. As the coordinating grantee, CCFH will bring together partners in early care and education, pediatrics, family support, mental health and homeless services in a unified strategy called Responsive Early Access for Durham’s Young Children (READY). Other funded agencies include Child Care Services Association, Duke Children’s Primary Care, Exchange Family Center and Families Moving Forward. Project evaluation will be conducted by the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

The primary goal of the READY project is to foster the healthy development and wellness of all young children in Durham County, preparing them to thrive in school and beyond. This includes expanding the use of evidence-based practices for preventing mental, emotional and behavioral disorders and for identifying and addressing behavioral concerns before they develop into serious emotional disturbances.

While the project is designed to meet the needs of all children ages 0-8 in the county, it will give particular attention to those affected by racial disparities, substance abuse, homelessness and parental military deployment. The project is also expected to improve coordination across child- and family-serving systems and to raise public awareness about local resources to promote healthy social-emotional development in early childhood.

Marsha Basloe, president of Child Care Services Association, said, “Linda Chappel, vice president of CCSA’s Triangle Area Child Care Resource and Referral Services, and I are pleased CCSA is a partner in this important work in Durham.”

A kick-off celebration for the READY project will be held Tuesday, September 24 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Durham County Administration Building II (201 East Main Street, Room 461). Staff from child- and family-serving agencies in Durham County are encouraged to attend to learn how they can participate in the project. More information and registration for the kick-off is available at www.ccfhnc.org/READY.

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Founded in 1974, Child Care Services Association’s mission is to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for all young children and their families. Using a holistic approach, CCSA supports children and families, helps child care professionals improve the quality of early education children receive and ensures that all families can afford and access the high-quality early care and education that is so important for a child’s early development. Through its Meal Services Program, CCSA also provides nutritious meals to children at child care centers, where they may eat 50-100 percent of their meals. Our T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, Child Care WAGE$® and Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$ programs give child care professionals the means to obtain an education and supplement their salary based that education. CCSA also licenses T.E.A.C.H. and WAGE$ across the U.S. and conducts early childhood systems research and policy development statewide and nationally. For more information, visit www.childcareservices.org.

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