The Institute of Child Development (ICD) has launched a field-based practicum course that partners with People Serving People (PSP), a comprehensive emergency shelter for children and families experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. At PSP’s Center of Excellence, trauma-informed care is utilized in a classroom setting with children ages birth to 5. For early childhood students, this provides a unique opportunity to translate what they learn in the classroom into practice.
Trauma-informed care encompasses an array of practices and tactics that assist children whose resources have been overwhelmed or who have faced adversity. Its goal is to establish a sense of safety and relational connectedness while being intentional with the care provided in the classroom.
Through this course and partnership, students are able to observe and assist in trauma-informed care to develop a deeper understanding of what a child who has experienced trauma needs in the classroom.
Through the combination of “theory, research, and practical guidance they are seeing it in practice in different ways and helping apply these practices to then bring them back to the group and reflect on them,” says Elizabeth Criswell, program coordinator and ICD director of undergraduate studies for early childhood programs.
At the inception of PSP, Criswell and fellow program coordinator Marie Lister, a teaching specialist at the Child Development Laboratory School, considered how they could enter into the relationship as a true partnership. The goal of the partnership was to ensure ICD students are not only learning from the professionals at PSP, but that the professionals at PSP gain valuable assistance from students. In an exchange of expertise, PSP professionals assist in choosing resources for students to study and speak in the classroom at ICD, while the students participate in their field study.
Ultimately, the goal of the program is to provide students with hands-on experiences that demonstrate the importance of providing children with caring relationships and emotional support. In the partnership with PSP, this theory has also been brought into practice to foster a caring and supportive relationship between ICD and its practicum sites. “Being collaborative is key to success,” says Kendrea Dickson, Center of Excellence director. “Coming together as educators and learning through each other’s experiences is extremely helpful.”