Supporting Our Staff As They Support Our Families

Given current circumstances, now more than ever, there is a need to support our Home Visitors, Family Service Workers and Center-based Teaching staff who cannot interact with their families in the conventional manner.

We have several options for training as these valuable professionals attempt to bridge the gap created by the pandemic, between families and programs. Please consider using some of your training and technical assistance funds to support staff who previously, consistently struggled with how best to reach their families and now have to grapple with restrictions, virtual visits and limited access not only to the children and families they serve, but also to solid, concrete ways to support them.

Mentor Coaching is an excellent way to support practitioners and teaching staff as they learn to navigate through new guidelines and restrictions on how they can reach their children and families and can be done virtually. Essential Elements is currently providing effective virtual mentor coaching to our clients for both teaching staff and family service staff.

At the heart of our mentor coaching services is a trusting, collaborative relationship with each Practitioner. Together, the Mentor Coach and Practitioner are active collaborators both focused on meeting the Practitioner’s individual learning needs. This begins with a commitment to be reliable to each other and a formal agreement to create measurable and meaningful individualized learning objectives together. This safe coaching relationship remains focused on the Practitioner’s learning, change, and growth.

Our mentor coaching services will meet the mentor coaching services requirements in the Head Start Program Performance Standards.  These services will guide your Practitioners toward improved implementation of best practices in your program, within the new boundaries in place for providing services during the COVID 19 pandemic

For more information, contact us by email or phone.

Re-opening In The Midst Of New Challenges And Hurdles

As our Head Start programs begin to tackle the new school year, with ever changing guidelines for re-opening, we want to offer our support and assistance.

Many program management and staff, new and veteran, have very real concerns about the children and families they serve.

  • What have our children experienced during the shutdown?
  • How have our parents fared?
  • Can they work?
  • Have our kids experienced food insecurity?
  • Have they been safe?
  • What will we need to do and what might we be faced with as we re-open?
  • How can I support my staff as children return to us?

All of Essential Elements’ trainings are now offered virtually. As Head Start professionals prepare to welcome children and families to a new school year that is not like anything any of us have previously experienced, we would like to help. We are offering virtual trainings that address the tough topics, effects of COVID 19 and the current race inequities, discussions in our communities, secondary trauma, and virtual support of families.

We are conducting virtual trainings for pre-service on most of our training topics, however, we would like to offer you additional support. Our trainers have been developing content that is relevant to current issues Head Start professional and the families they serve are experiencing.

Below are our most requested topics from programs searching for effective ways to support staff and families while addressing the very real impact and consequences the pandemic and racial tension brought to our programs across the country.

  • Managing Your Stress: Self-Care Strategies for Difficult Times
  • Working with Challenging Families During a Pandemic
  • Becoming Trauma Informed and Recognizing Secondary Trauma
  • Managing Challenging Behaviors
  • Helping Children Feel Safe in Today’s Society-COVID 19 and Racism
  • How to Have Hard Conversations with Staff
  • How to Have Hard Conversations with Families
  • Becoming Trauma Informed – Responsive Caregiving
  • Moving from Helper to Partner
  • Linking the Classroom to Home

For more information, contact us by email or give us a call.

Why Now is the Perfect Time for your Community Assessment!

Now is the perfect time to reassess or conduct your Community Assessment.  While program planning is always an important piece of a successful Head Start or Early Head Start program your community’s needs may have been impacted due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.  We can examine modifications that can be made to the traditional Community Needs Assessment (CNA) process, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Has your agency explored techniques for data prioritization as staff juggles pre-COVID-19 needs as well as current crisis requests? We can help!

A current and comprehensive Community Assessment is one of the key documents to have for effective program planning. A comprehensive Community Assessment is also needed to write your Refunding Application, your Recompetition Grant Application and to maintain programmatic compliance. Your Community Assessment is a key document that drives decision-making in your program.

We create comprehensive & custom designed Community Assessments for Head Start programs, Early Head Start programs and agencies (including Community Action Agencies).  Our Community Assessments will meet the requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards (and of your CAP or other program regulations). All of our services are custom designed to meet the specific needs of your program or agency; we will include any additional data that you request.

Our Community Assessments include:

    • Aggregating and analyzing a multitude of data sources;
    • Comparing current data with past years’ data;
    • Colorful graphs and charts illustrating the data;
    • Key findings for each piece of data;
    • Highlights & considerations for each major section;
    • Survey results of your Parents, Staff, Board of Directors and Community Partners.

In addition to Community Assessments we also:

For more information on any of these services, or to request a sample, please contact

Essential Elements Website Launch – New Look and New Virtual Options for Training

We have a new look and new focus for current times!

During the shutdown, EE has been busy updating our website and creating products that will best fit the needs of our Head Start programs. While our world has collectively shifted and nothing is likely the same for you as you begin to look at re-opening your programs, we are here to support you!

There is not a replacement for the dynamics of in-person training and learning and we recognize that. For our many clients who will not be able to access the live training venue, most of our trainings and trainers are now available virtually. While you are navigating how to re-open and are struggling with individual state and county requirements, we want to make that process a little easier if we can. We are monitoring your state and local regulations so we can support you within guidelines.

As newly granted Covid 19 funds have become available to programs we would like partner with you to meet your professional development needs. As you know, there are some requirements for training and technical assistance topics to be met. We have been working with our clients and training professionals through this process, and want to share a list of our most requested virtual training topics:

  • Self-Care Strategies for Difficult Times: Intentional Interventions for Instructors and Caregivers
  • Becoming Trauma Informed
  • Recognizing Secondary Trauma and Developing Coping Strategies
  • Managing Challenging Behaviors: How to re-integrate children to the classroom
  • The Role of the Home Visitor: adaptations for current times

Please take a look around visit our Services area, as well as our Training opportunities.

Happy Birthday Head Start!

What a great week for Head Start programs across the country! Even though we may not be together in person, we are together in spirit celebrating the history and success that is Head Start. Fifty five years ago, the activities and resources put together by a diverse team of dedicated individuals began to make a difference for children and families in our country. As President Lyndon Johnson stated at that time, “We set out to make certain that poverty’s children would not be forever more poverty’s captives.”

The Head Start program began as six weeks of care and education for young children to level the playing field for first grade entry. Through the determination and hard work of individuals in all parts of our country and a variety of support and talent, it now makes a difference every day for children and families, even in challenging times as we face now. Coincidentally, Early Head Start has its 25th birthday this year.

To all those involved in the work of the now birth to five Head Start program, thank you for your efforts and the energy that you have devoted to this work. For those enrolled, welcome to a program that is designer for your success, your involvement and your partnership of guiding your child and family to a positive and productive educational career. Happy Birthday Head Start!

Struggling With Becoming “Trauma Informed?” We Have Solutions For Your Program.

According to NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci, “Head Start is a safe haven for more than one million vulnerable children and families, many of whom are battling the storms of addiction and other traumatic experiences.” It takes courage and commitment to work with the most vulnerable children and families in our communities.  It’s not surprising that staff are seeing the impacts of complex developmental trauma in their classrooms, as well experiencing an increase in second-hand trauma themselves. Data confirms an increase in the number of families reporting involvement with child welfare agencies, alcohol and drug dependency, domestic violence, mental illness, grandparents raising grandchildren, poor health, and housing insecurity.

Are you interested in a highly interactive and custom designed training which addresses:

  • Contemporary research on the impact and effects and stress (including chronic stress) on the development of preschool children
  • The essential elements that build stress-responsive classrooms that support the development of children at high risk for negative outcomes of stress and trauma
  • The strategies that build a “culture of support” for children and staff; developing classroom community, building self-regulation skills, and managing second-hand trauma and compassion fatigue.

We currently have availability in April and May, or for your preservice, for your program to become more aware of the effects of trauma on young children and signs of second-hand trauma, increasing effective intervention strategies for staff and children in your care. Contact us for more information.


Assessing Program Strengths

The New Year is a great time to assess your programs strengths and areas where there are opportunities for improvement. While it is a new calendar year, your Teaching staff, Policy Council, Governing Board, Family Service Workers, Management Staff and Support staff are halfway through the program year. This is the perfect time to take stock and “fine tune”.

If you have identified a need to strengthen family partnerships, assist teaching staff with challenging behaviors, create more effective transitions, increase Classroom Organization or Instructional Support scores or strengthen your staff’s ability to interpret data to drive instruction, the second half of the program year is the perfect time for an in-service training. Implementing trainings to address identified areas for improvement as they are occurring is far more effective than waiting for the next year’s pre-service trainings.

Don’t wait, schedule your training while the year’s challenges are current and fresh in the minds of staff.

Our most popular in-service training topics for mid-year:

  • Successfully Managing Challenging Behaviors.
  • Becoming Trauma Informed – Successfully Managing Difficult Behaviors.
  • In the Door and on the Floor – Best Practices for Home Visiting.
  • How to Have Hard Conversations (with families or staff).
  • Working with Challenging Families.
  • The “Well Oiled Machine” – CLASS-based Classroom Organization Training.
  • Asking the Juicy Questions – CLASS-based Instructional Support Training.
  • Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction.

You can learn more about our full list of training topics and services at

Please call us at (704) 451-3255 or email us at to discuss your mid-year in-service training needs for 2020!.


Addressing Second-Hand Trauma in the Workplace

It takes courage and commitment to work with the most vulnerable children and families in our communities. With more and more Head Start and Early Head Start programs serving higher-risk families, it’s not surprising that staff are also experiencing an increase in second-hand trauma. Data confirms an increase in the number of families reporting involvement with child welfare agencies, alcohol and drug dependency, domestic violence, mental illness, grandparents raising grandchildren, poor health, and housing insecurity. Working daily with children and families experiencing trauma profoundly affects our well-being as well as our ability to take care of ourselves and others.

This highly interactive and custom designed training will address:

  • Examine burnout, second-hand trauma, and compassion fatigue;
  • Describe how different individuals may experience stress and secondary trauma;
  • Provide an opportunity for self-assessment and personal reflection;
  • Use a multidimensional approach to prevention;
  • Explore evidence-based intervention strategies;
  • Identify signs of organizational stress and consider how to build a healthier workplace.

Becoming aware of the signs of second-hand trauma and having a toolbox of strategies to take care of yourself allows the staff take care of our at-risk children and families.

Looking for a training for your staff on “Addressing Second-Hand Trauma in the Workplace”?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction: Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers & Management Staff

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times…… data is the driving force of decision-making. Effective Head Start programs have a culture of data-driven decision making.  This is the process of making decisions based on the analysis of your programmatic information. As you consider multiple data sources (CLASS data, child assessment data, etc.) and analyze the results, you’re able to create changes that increase overall program quality and improve child outcomes.

Teachers play a critical role in the process through the use of ongoing assessment data to guide classroom instruction.  Observing and gathering assessment information for every child is the starting point for decision-making in the classroom. After observing, recording and reflecting, the data is used to drive instruction – and individualize for each child by creating learning goals.

This highly interactive and practice-based training:

  • Demonstrates the assessment-instruction cycle – focused observations, interpreting data, adapting and modifying instruction, and engaging families.
  • Shows Teachers how to be intentional with every step in the assessment-instructional cycle, increasing their interpretive skills in order to monitor and support children’s progress.
  • Provides Teachers with hands-on opportunities to make data-driven decisions for their classroom.

We also offer data training for Management staff that focuses on getting the most out of your program’s data… (1) strategies to interpret data, (2) how to effectively coach front-line staff as they collect and use data to drive instruction in the classrooms, and (3) how to tell the story of your program’s data.

Are you looking for highly interactive and custom designed training on “Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction: Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers & Management Staff?” Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Becoming Trauma Informed: Successfully Managing Children’s Challenging Behaviors

Many of our children come from hard places and have experienced trauma. We know that early experiences adversely impacts brain development. Developmental trauma impacts children’s attachment system and their ability to self-regulate. This often results in children acting out through a multitude of challenging behaviors. Becoming trauma informed (learning strategies and language that increases safety while promoting optimal brain development) is a key piece of successfully addressing children’s challenging behaviors.

Head Start classrooms today contain more and more children with extreme behavior issues as well as children with diagnosed and undiagnosed special needs. Teachers often report that despite trying many different things to manage children’s challenging behaviors, nothing has been effective. We have found that the origin of many children’s challenging behaviors is rooted in developmental trauma.

Behaviorally challenging children are also relationship-resistant children. Instead of spending precious time trying to get challenging children under control, we can instead create a compassionate school culture. This strategy employs the natural power of connection between all members as a means of co-regulating behavior and teaching children to self-regulate.

Research shows that children who are connected to others in the early years of schooling are much more likely to develop socially, emotionally and academically. Children’s social and emotional functioning in the classroom is a primary indicator of school readiness.

We believe that successful behavior management training is based on shifting teachers’ daily practice from reward and punishment — to teaching, modeling and nurturing relationships within a positive school climate.

This highly interactive and custom designed training includes:

  • Understanding how developmental trauma impacts children’s attachment and their ability to self-regulate;
  • Defining teaching behaviors and interventions that improve children’s ability to pay attention and impulse control;
  • Learning to “meet children where they are” including specific strategies to reach challenging children in a way that builds trust and connection;
  • Exploring how these connections directly increase the ability to problem-solve, engaging students in interactions that facilitate effective learning;
  • Discovering how to connect with relationship-resistant children, reduce oppositional defiant behavior and increase cooperation and compliance.

Are you looking for highly interactive and practice-based Training on “Becoming Trauma Informed: Successfully Managing Children’s Challenging Behaviors”? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at