The California Children and Families Commission is one of the few government programs which focuses on the treatment of children with ASD who have a diagnosis today - most government resources focus on research for a cause and a cure and although that is very important, it is also important to have programs to help the children currently diagnosed, and I am always excited to learn more about these programs. I recently learned about this program and wanted to share it with all of you.
The First 5 California Mission:
Current research in brain development clearly indicates that the emotional, physical and intellectual environment that a child is exposed to in the early years of life has a profound impact on how the brain is organized. The experiences a child has with respect to parents and caregivers significantly influence how a child will function in school and later in life.
The California Children and Families Act of 1998 is designed to provide, on a community-by-community basis, all children prenatal to five years of age with a comprehensive, integrated system of early childhood development services. Through the integration of health care, quality child care, parent education and effective intervention programs for families at risk, children and their parents and caregivers will be provided with the tools necessary to foster secure, healthy and loving attachments. These attachments will lay the emotional, physical and intellectual foundation for every child to enter school ready to learn and develop the potential to become productive, well-adjusted members of society.
The First 5 California Special Needs Project works with families, caregivers, child care providers – including Head Start and State Preschool programs, educators, health, mental health, and social services providers – to support young children with a broad spectrum of special needs in the context of and as an integral part of the First 5 School Readiness Initiative community approach.
Special Needs Project emphasis areas include:
1. Universal access to screening for early identification/diagnosis and referrals for physical and developmental issues (including social/emotional/behavioral) 2. Improved access to and utilization of services and supports through coordination and reallocation of existing resources and building of new supplemental resources.
3. Inclusion of young children with disabilities and other special needs in appropriate typical preschools, child care and development and other community settings with provision of necessary supports to help the child succeed in these environments. 4. Evaluation to identify effective practices and to improve programs.
They also have the Map to Inclusive Child Care Project. The Map Project works under the umbrella of the California Institute on Human Services (CIHS) at Sonoma State University and is funded by the California Department of Education’s Child Development Division. This project seeks to expand opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs in child care and development programs. The project is committed to improving the delivery of quality child care services to children with disabilities and other special needs in inclusive settings. This is accomplished by bringing together key stakeholders who have an interest in and have impact on quality child care programs that include children with disabilities and other special needs.
They have a book available to help parents who have children with difficult behaviors called Children with Challenging Behavior, it is a PDF, you can just print it out for your home or office.
Also interesting is their SCHOOL READINESS program whose goal is to implement programs that improve the transition from early care settings to elementary school and increase the schools’ and communities’ capacity to promote the sucesss of young children. You might also like to check out the POWER OF PRESCHOOL program, which is a high-quality, free, voluntary, part-day preschool program for all four year-olds (or three- and four-year olds). The program will assist children in becoming personally, socially, and physically competent, effective learners, and ready to transition into kindergarten.
I appreciate that they are also taking the time to collect data to assess the effectiveness of these programs.