Friday, June 4, 2010

ECEAP success stories: We love 'em!

We hear so many wonderful stories about how a child has flourished in our Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), and are excited that this state-funded preschool program will be available to all eligible children by 2018, thanks to House Bill 2731 sponsored by Rep. Roger Goodman. Here’s a recent success story from an ECEAP site in southwest Washington about a 3-year-old boy:

The boy had been demonstrating angry and aggressive behaviors at home and in the community. Both his pediatrician and the worker at WIC had recommended mental health services for the child. He exhibited extreme anxiety and anger arriving at school, hitting mom, his brother and the teacher. For several months the child refused to extend himself in the environment—he would not grasp anything in his hand (cup, marker, toy, food, etc.). He would not talk or interact with anything or anyone.

The teachers invited him to participate at every opportunity but did not force interactions. The ECEAP site team quickly involved their mental health consultant and made an outside referral for therapy with a bilingual therapist (this child did not speak English). The family gets four hours of in-home support a week and weekly therapy sessions. Efforts to draw him out and to help him feel successful in the classroom were constantly evaluated by the mom and staff together and new strategies employed. In late winter he began to eat in class, to hold toys, and to participate in art projects. He then started to speak to another child in his native language and was observed smiling and delighting in the interactions of others in the class.

Photos taken at the end of the year show a smiling 4-year-old comfortably lying in the grass looking up at his peers. The team saw amazing social emotional development in the ECEAP class, and mom saw similar changes at home. Best of all: He will be able to return to ECEAP this next school year!

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