What is Working for Kids: Building Skills?

This is an educational program that seeks to build strong communities by focusing on the development of a community’s most precious asset—its children. Working for Kids: Building Skills is a novel community-based educational program that takes an intergenerational approach to putting children on a positive trajectory for success in school and in life. This program has two components: (1) a community training program, and (2) a skills and health evaluation program. The training program teaches how children develop strong brain pathways to support skill development. The training program is designed for parents, teachers, child care workers, and all community members with a particular focus on teens and senior citizens. Our hope is to embed children in a community where everyone they come in contact with can foster healthy brain development of the community's children. The skills and health evaluation program works with community partners (child care facilities, preschools, various community programs for children) to evaluate the positive benefits of the training program on the development of (1) children's social emotional regulation skills, language skills, and problem solving skills, and (2) health measures such as better sleep, improved immune function, improved mental health functioning in the children as well as in those working with children.

The training program and the skills and health evaluation program together facilitate the development of communities where: 1) young children thrive and develop the social-emotional and important cognitive skills that will allow them to do well in school;  2) adults working with children know how to foster healthy brain development; 3) older children (preteens, teens) serve as mentors and role models for younger children, helping to teach cognitive skills, while continuing to develop their own social-emotional skills, reinforcing that young people have a lot to offer; and 4) senior citizens remain active, vital contributors to their community, cognitively engaged and understand that they are needed, important members of society.

We are continually developing instructional materials (including videos, games and activities) to be used in the training program. We are also continually developing  the website so that it can be used as a resource to all who are interested and participating in this program, and for those who want to share the program with other communities. All aspects of this intervention are being evaluated for effectiveness in meeting the needs of the community.

Watch a video about Working For Kids: Building Skills

Endorsement from the Mayor of Pittsburgh:

Children are a community’s greatest asset! Programs that take a community-based approach to child development are key to improving the life trajectory of the next generation.

Mayor of Pittsburgh Bill Peduto