Training for Early Childhood Professionals
The Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage supports more than 30 programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of expectant parents and the development and early learning of children through age five across Kent County. New in 2023, is training and education for the nearly 150 early childhood professionals whose positions are supported by Ready by Five funds.
Health Net of West Michigan and Family Promise were awarded funds to ensure the workforce stays up to date on early childhood best practices, trauma-informed approaches, and more.
Three distinct training courses have been funded and implemented.
Health Net of West Michigan’s Care Model©
The Care Model© training is focused on successful navigation and client engagement. Instructors share knowledge to equip Ready by Five professionals with sustainable best practices to increase families’ access to and engagement with services. The training provides a foundation for strengths-based, person-centered empowerment practice that all Ready by Five providers can utilize within their programs, enabling them to maximize their own funding allocations on program-specific needs. Ready by Five participants say:
“The Ready by Five Care Model Training series was very helpful for me. I visit residents of Kent County in their homes, specifically those with lead-exposed or lead-poisoned children…This training helped improve my soft skills, especially with these families whose children are hurting,” said Eric Benjamin, Kent County Health Department- Environmental Health Division.
“In my role as a community navigator, I find that having the heart to serve is only part of what we need...This training helped me to do my job more efficiently. By having a guideline of how our work should be done; helps me to not burn out…My cohort was diverse so hearing all of their experiences and ideas and their point of view of why [helped me grow]. I find out that if I am ‘just doing’ and I am not sure that I am doing it right, I end up overworking and stressing out,”Marisol Garcia, Community Support Navigator- Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.
Health Net of West Michigan’s Supervisor Learning Cohorts
Supervisors can provide the structure, support, and guidance to the workforce that results in high-quality services and increased job satisfaction. Health Net of West Michigan began their supervisor training out of necessity as their team grew and new supervisor positions were created. It is very common that new supervisors in human services get little training or preparation for their role, often being promoted because they were good at a frontline position working with clients.
Starting in 2023, Ready by Five supervisors were part of a Supervisor Learning Cohort. Participants have articulated the immediate learning as well as longer-term impact and application in their role as a supervisor:
“This training has encouraged and motivated me to be a more thoughtful and conscientious supervisor. It has taught me how valuing my partnership and professional relationship with supervisees can lead to healthier relationships and better productivity within my work organization…Being more mindful of everyone’s experiences and adjusting my supervision style to meet the needs, support and help my employees succeed,”Vanessa Jurewicz, LMSW Clinical Supervisor - Easterseals MORC
“I truly think that this informational series should be part of the learning series that all new supervisors participate in. I have had many experiences in supervision, some good, others not so good. I believe that, had I been introduced to some of these topics, earlier in my career, I would have made a different impact on those that I supervise…The validation that I receive from others in this course has helped me check my own bias and emotional responses, but also helped me feel better able to have difficult conversations,” said Brandi Berry, LLMSW, Public Health Program Supervisor – Kent County Health Department
Family Promise’s Trauma-Informed Training
Family Promise of West Michigan is leading the trauma-informed trainings for the Ready by Five Network. Trauma affects the brain and therefore the early brain development of young children. The training helps participants understand trauma, how culture impacts families with young children and the trauma they experience, the role of Adverse Childhood Experiences (link) (ACE’s) in a child’s development and how to prevent further events from taking place.
The training works to identify strategies to support families with young children who have experienced trauma and toxic stress. The sessions are in place to review, discuss and practice techniques and resources for those interacting with families with young children in Kent County. The Ready by Five network has benefited from this learning opportunity and some shared their reactions:
“Super engaging. Refreshed a lot of things I knew and taught me some new things. Love the play ideas at the end.”
“It was very informative and in-depth. Personally, I love how the brain works so that portion was very interesting.”
‘Wonderfully presented. I enjoyed the weaving in of implicit and unconscious bias, as well as equality vs. equity!’