Midtown Early Care and Education
The Midtown Collaborative is a quality improvement project developed by the USF St. Petersburg Family Study Center and funded by the state legislature. The funding to USF St. Petersburg was meant to create and support high quality early care and education in pilot centers that serve children ages 6 weeks to 6 years and represent the community’s most under resourced families. The project is also led by a community collaborative made up of agencies and individuals invested in high quality education and support services for families to guide, advise and ensure accountability.
In Year 1; 2017-2018, six centers were provided with Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation services by licensed therapists within a team of early childhood professionals. Over 20 hours of formal training was also provided to every staff person in all six centers over the course of the first year. The topics included Trauma Informed Care in Early Learning, Relationship Based Caregiving, Coparenting and Family Engagement, and Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health. Some of the centers were also funded to make capital improvements to their programs in order to improve overall quality.
In Year 2; 2018-2019, one center in the heart of Midtown continued participating in the project to extend the impact of the interventions. Teaching staff were able to participate in the annual NAEYC Conference through the Midtown Project and receive ongoing support and guidance. Onsite Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation services continued through the year as well.
Children participating in the pilot project experience improvements in social emotional skills, self-regulation, behavior management, coping skills, family strength, access to services, stronger school readiness skills, and long term increased ability to learn. Teaching staff improved their understanding of trauma in young children, relationship based caregiving, identification of early childhood issues, and ways to respond.
The Family Study Center of USF St. Petersburg is committed to meaningful and helpful partnerships with the early childhood education community serving children birth to five. Following the success of the Midtown Project, we are continuing to work with young children, their teachers, community and families in new and exciting ways. Based on the lessons learned and the information gleaned from working with nearly 100 early childhood educators and over 350 children from 2017 – 2019, we are preparing to embark on a new initiative with local educators to address ongoing reports and data throughout Pinellas County that indicates that social and emotional development and trauma informed programming is the key to preparing young children for school. Our work for the coming school year will tackle these issues directly by working with teachers and children in the classroom and develop tangible and realistic supports to begin to move the needle in a more positive direction for long term school success. Stay tuned for more information in the Fall of 2020!
For Questions or More Information
USF St. Petersburg – Family Study Center
100 5th Ave South St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Contact: Jenny Hughes 727-873-4848