CAP Services’ Early Childhood Development program was recently recognized as having fully implemented the Wisconsin Pyramid Model for social and emotional competence in its Head Start and Early Head Start programs. CAP’s programs are the first to complete implementation under a State of Wisconsin pilot program encouraging adoption of the model.
“It’s been a real agency-wide process,” said Shannon Piotrowski, CAP Early Childhood Development Special Services Manager. “We were able to achieve our goals because of the support from administration, classroom staff and parents. These practices have now been embedded in all our service areas.”
The Pyramid Model uses an evidence-based framework to promote healthy social and emotional development and prevent challenging behaviors in young children. Participating programs are required to implement specific teaching strategies, to provide training for staff and parents, complete classroom observations, and to collect data that is reported to the state.
Programs that have fully implemented the Pyramid Model report reductions in children’s challenging behavior, increases in children’s social skills, increased satisfaction of program staff and families, reduced program turnover, and increased teacher competence and confidence.
“We’re seeing more and more kids come to our programs that don’t necessarily know how to play and to learn in a social environment,” said Kathy Schouten, Assistant Director of CAP Early Childhood Development. “The Pyramid Model has helped provide some simple steps and tools to help assist the classroom staff in helping the children adjust to the classroom environment and to promote school readiness goals.”
In program-wide adoption, a leadership team guides the implementation process and develops the supports and infrastructure needed to ensure that Pyramid Model strategies are used in all services provided to children and families.
“One example of how the program has helped us is ‘Tucker the Turtle,’” said Piotrowski. “Tucker is a turtle dealing constructively with stressful situations. We tell his story to help children learn how to deal with anger. It is something we weren’t using before, but that has really helped to decrease behavior issues in the classroom.”
The State of Wisconsin received a three-year technical assistance grant from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) in 2009 to support implementation of the Pyramid Model. CAP Services was accepted as a demonstration site in the fall of 2011, as part of the second group of five early childhood programs.
CAP Services is a private, nonprofit community action agency that has been helping low-income people in Marquette, Outagamie, Portage, Waupaca and Waushara counties attain economic and emotional self-sufficiency since 1966. It offers Early Childhood Development programs in Marquette, Portage, Waupaca and Waushara counties. For additional information please visit capservices.org or call 715-343-7539.