Brazelton Touchpoints Center partnership benefits Educare children, families and staff

Educare recently began a new year of its partnership with the Brazelton Touchpoints Center to implement an innovative family engagement approach that aligns with the Educare model.

This fall, Educare New Orleans and Educare Washington, DC, became the latest schools to receive training from the Educare Learning Network on the Touchpoints approach. The Network and Brazelton Touchpoints Center have partnered over the last eight years to bring the Touchpoints approach to 933 staff at 12 other Educare schools.

Framework and strategies to help early childhood professionals partner with parents to best support children’s development

This approach provides early childhood professionals with a framework and strategies to help them partner with parents to best support children’s development. It is based on Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s decades of research on pediatrics, child development and parenting.

Consistent with the Educare model, the Touchpoints approach offers staff opportunities to work together to successfully implement the model’s core features, including embedded professional development and intensive family engagement. The approach engages all staff, including teachers, family support professionals and supervisors.

“The Touchpoints approach is consistent with Educare’s belief that everyone at the school has critical knowledge and experience to bring to the table in our work to support children’s learning and development,” said Nick Wechsler, director for program development at the Educare Learning Network.

Early childhood professionals using the Touchpoints approach consider how parents’ and staff’s actions are motivated by their desire to do what’s best for the children.

“What I value most from learning the Touchpoints approach is knowing that we all do the same work,” said Lizzette Arcos, family engagement specialist at Educare West DuPage. “We all want to work together with the parents for the well-being of the child.”

Kristen Holzinger, family services manager at Educare Central Maine, said she used the Touchpoints approach when speaking with a parent who was upset with a staff member.

“By asking to learn more about what was upsetting the parent—how it connected to her hopes and fears for her child—and asking the parent what she would like to see going forward, I was able to make a meaningful connection that helped to address the parent’s concerns,” Holzinger said.

As a first step to begin using the Touchpoints approach, Educare leaders choose a team of staff to receive Touchpoints training from the Network over the course of a year. Then three school staff receive further training to be able to mentor their colleagues in the approach over the second year and beyond.

In this way, the Touchpoints approach is sustained by the school staff. The Network provides support to the school trainers as the approach becomes embedded in the school over four to five years. The Touchpoints training for Educare school staff is supported by a grant from the Buffett Early Childhood Fund.

An evaluation of Educare school staff using the Touchpoints approach shows that it is effective. Touchpoints-trained staff retained the knowledge they gained in the training for three to four years, far longer than other professional development approaches.

Parents who partner with Touchpoints-trained staff reported they had improved relationships with the staff and decreased levels of parenting stress.

“When parents are less stressed, they feel more secure and confident in their parenting skills,” Wechsler said. “This opens the possibility for more learning, for both their children and themselves.”