First4 AmeriCorps members will provide additional classroom support to strengthen existing trauma-informed classroom practices and strategies. These 15 (5 full and 10 part-time) members will receive training to better understand concepts such as child development, poverty, ACEs, and trauma-informed teaching to support the social-emotional development of children ages 6 weeks to 5 years.
Additionally, as a means of sustainability for such a profound and important undertaking, First4 members will also participate in the recruitment of volunteers and creation of a legacy document and process to support future volunteers and AmeriCorps members.
First4 members will participate in orientation as well as various--and ongoing--trainings and professional development. In the classroom, members will directly support children ages 6 weeks to 5 years throughout the school day, engaging in both indoor and outdoor activities to consistently promote learning opportunities across all domains, particularly cognitive and social-emotional. Members will partner with classroom teachers and assistant teachers, who will act as mentors. Additionally, First4 members will also participate in efforts to recruit future volunteers/members.
Community Need Addressed
According to the Maine Kids Count Data, Maine has the highest rate of children diagnosed with anxiety, the third highest rate for children diagnosed with depression, and 22.5% of children under 18 have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs is a term used to describe the various forms of abuse, neglect, and traumatic experiences that children under 18 face. When young children are faced with such disadvantages early in life, their ability to learn and be successful in school are severely impacted. In the 2018-2019 program year, 78% of the newly enrolled children failed to meet school readiness benchmark goals in the areas of social/emotional, physical, cognitive, math, and literacy development.
However, with resilience, children can triumph over trauma and adversity. Resilience is the human capacity to face, overcome, and be strengthened by adversity. Children from low-income families need to become resilient to overcome the adversity they are up against, but they cannot do it alone. "During the first few years of a child's life, a million neural connections are formed in the brain every second. Babies’ brains are literally wired to learn—as much as they possibly can. And they are shaped by inputs from their environments—for better or for worse" (educareschools.org).
First4 AmeriCorps members will provide additional classroom support to strengthen existing trauma-informed classroom practices and strategies. First4 members’ direct support in child care and preschool settings will lower the adult-to-child ratio, thus increasing teaching staff’s capacity to deliver high quality curriculum and focus more on skills and school readiness. These 15 (5 full and 10 part-time) members will receive training to better understand concepts such as child development, poverty, ACEs, and trauma-informed teaching. Then, in collaboration with teaching staff, they will transfer that knowledge into practice in classrooms with enrolled children who are struggling to meet benchmarks due to experience trauma, social and emotional deficiencies in development, and limited exposure to early education.
In collaboration with teaching staff, First4 members will transfer their knowledge (procured in training) into practice in classrooms with enrolled children who are struggling to meet benchmarks due to experience trauma, social and emotional deficiencies in development, and limited exposure to early education. By lowering the adult-to-child ratio, our goal is to further boost resiliency and reduce overall toxic stress by supporting children's social-emotional development in their child care and preschool settings. This, in turn, will help them be school-ready by the time they enter Kindergarten, and have lasting positive effects on their future academic success.
Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Living allowance, Training
Members will receive training to better understand concepts such as child development, poverty, ACEs, and trauma-informed teaching.
Skills you will gain
teamwork and collaboration, communication, emotional regulation, problem solving, understanding others, punctuality, prioritizing, flexibility, patience, relationship building
Competencies You Will Develop
Demonstrate sensitivity and empathy, Listen to and consider others' viewpoints, Maintain open lines of communication with others, Speak clearly, in precise language and in a logical, organized and coherent manner
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions, Communicate the problem to appropriate personnel, Improvise, Provide relevant expertise, Select and implement well-considered solution
Derive consensus, Develop constructive working relationships and maintain them over time, Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented, Use appropriate strategies and solutions for dealing with conflicts and differences to maintain a smooth workflow
Accepts responsibility, Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process, Involve people appropriately in decisions that may impact them, Quickly respond with a back-up plan if a decision goes amiss
Carefully consider which tools or technological solutions are appropriate for a given job, Consistently choose the best tool or technological solution for the problem at hand
Create environment of contribution, Create plan of action, schedule tasks so that work is completed on time, Set goals
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Provide personalized, prompt, and efficient service to meet the requirements, requests and needs of customers, Recognize the importance of maintaining privacy and confidentiality of those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others, Understand the importance of one's role in the functioning of the organization, Understand the significance of maintaining a healthful and safe environment