Therapeutic Child Care
In 2008, BCS entered into a grant-funded pilot program with the Howard Center to improve mental health support for children and families in the area via a partnership between numerous local childcare centers. After one year, this project received permanent funding, and it is now called the Therapeutic Child Care (TCC) project. There are four additional child care programs in Chittenden County that are implementing this model with the help of the Howard Center. They are: Lund Family Center (Burlington, VT), Trinity Children’s Center (Burlington, VT), King Street Center (Burlington, VT), and Little Ones University (Essex Junction, VT).
Core Elements of TCC
Each classroom at BCS has developed a set of routines and expectations that provides reassurance and guidance to the children and staff alike. These routines help children know what to expect from their days, and make challenging activities more predictable.For children who feel like they don't have control over their environment, suggesting alternative that still meet the expectations can be reassuring.
A therapeutic environment also helps children build skills necessary for validating and regulating their own emotions.In many cases, this means making space for children's big feelings. Some children can talk through their big feelings, but many need to act them out in some way. This can be one of the most overwhelming aspects of therapeutic care, but it leads to essential skill-building and emotional intelligence.
The children's families are essential to therapetuic classrooms' growth, and the home/school connection should be honored in many ways throughout the classroom. Encouragement, support, and input from families is crucial to creating a successful environment and helping teachers understand what situations are either triggering or reassuring to children.
As a Therapeutic Child Care Center, our approach to food and eating is one of generosity, car, and respect.We want all children at BCS to experience mealtime as a relaxing and nourishing time, and to trust that there will always be enough to eat.To accomplish this, we focus on making mealtimes calm, predictable, conversational, and full of lots of different types of yummy, healthy food.
Why is TCC Important to BCS?
In its original mission and vision statement from 1984, BCS outlined the following values: high-quality education and childcare for all children; community; diversity; well-qualified, motivated staff; fiscal soundness; and excellence. Each of these values is consistent with the TCC model of childcare. The Therapeutic Child Care partnership with the Howard Center allows teachers to develop the skills necessary to embrace all students in the classroom, no matter how challenging or atypical their experiences are. This practice sends the important message that we understand children’s behavior and know how to help everyone learn, even when they are struggling.