Working for Kids: Building Skills is a “whole community approach” to facilitating healthy brain development for children in the early years of life. The program brings many community members (child care workers, preschool teachers, parents, other adults, older children, senior citizens, various program directors) together, working as facilitators to help young children learn important social-emotional skills and cognitive skills that will set them on a strong trajectory for life-long learning and success.

Program Goals: Working for Kids: Building Skills is designed to build strong communities through the understanding that long-term community development relies on economic and civic development that relies on child development. This process is inherently interdependent and intergenerational. Our program facilitates the development of communities where:

(1)  Young children thrive, have healthy brain development in the early years of life, learn to interact well with those around them, learn the ‘give and take’ of healthy relationships, and learn that what they do matters to those around them. We believe they can achieve these social-emotional skills while learning important cognitive skills that will allow them to do well in school (i.e., problem-solving skills, language skills, conflict resolution skills). Indeed, research shows that those children who get the opportunity to weave their social-emotional and cognitive skills together in strong “skills ropes” ultimately have stronger skill sets on which to base future learning.

(2)   Older children and preteens serve as near-peer 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 as a critical part of a healthy community.

(3)  Senior citizens remain active, vital contributors to their community and are physically mobile, cognitively engaged and see that they are needed, important members of society. The program also teaches them to develop digital skills in order to connect with others in an increasingly networked society.