Caring Connections is a community-driven program that strives to build caring and authentic relationships between preschool families and schools, with a focus on digital access and connection.
The Caring Connections program was originally developed in Spring 2020 to address the digital access crisis and to support engagement with families of pre-K-aged children in the city of Rochester. Since then, our program has evolved to become a program led by school family liaisons and supported by Children’s Institute staff, that provides parent education and connection via webinars, one-on-one support from “Caring Connectors” (parent/adult family educators), and parent discussion groups. The goal is to facilitate connections between preschool families and schools using innovative digital technologies, creating caring connections that improve preschool child and family wellbeing.
Accomplishments of the Caring Connections program include:
- In Year 1 (2020-21), over 319 preschool families participated throughout school-based and community-based sites. Devices (WiFi and tablets) were distributed to families in need of them, and family engagement specialists worked with families to enhance digital literacy and promote connectedness. Results showed that children’s attendance rates were higher for families who participated in the program (Duprey et al., 2021).
- In Year 2 (2021-22), we partnered with school family liaisons (i.e., “Caring Connectors”) to co-develop and implement a series of webinars, with a focus on play and attendance. Topics included “The Importance of Play”, “Meaningful Media Play”, “Attendance Matters!”, and “Planned Play-Why it Matters!”. Evaluation results showed that, as a result of attending these webinars, parents had more positive attitudes about play and preschool attendance, and there were improvements in family-school communication and engagement (Duprey et al., 2022).
- In Year 3 (2022-23), we continued to partner with our Caring Connectors to implement two webinar series. In Fall 2022, we provided free webinar programming for families of preschool children receiving special education services. Then, in Spring 2023, we hosted a series of four webinars and a parent discussion group that focused on social-emotional development, infant and child mental health, and the importance of parent self-care. Evaluation results from Year 3 are forthcoming.
Caring Connections will learn from you, as your family’s leader about how to best support YOUR goals, interests, and important family needs.
Resources for Families
Parent Resources suggested by Melissa Parrish, MA, Ed. from her workshop "Emotionally Healthy Children Matter!" presented as part of the "Empowering Families First" series, “Healthy Children Matter” workshop for RCSD Preschool Parents: Parent Resources - Emotionally Healthy Children Matter
PBS Kids: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
NCPMI: Help Us Stay Calm
Zero to Three: Positive Parenting
Vanderbilt University: Prevent Strategy - Provide Frequent Positive Attention
Embrace Race: Evidence-based Suggestions for Managing Stress
NCPMI: Why Can't I Go to School?
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): CDC's Developmental Milestones
ROC the Future: COVID-19 Resources for Families
Child Care Council: Parent Resources
New York State: Parent Portal
Kids Thrive 585: Listings of health, family and child resources
Children's Institute: COVID-19 Resources for Families
Contact us for more information - please reference "Caring Connections" in your message