To raise awareness of and address these challenges with culturally competent best practices, Reach Within will establish a regional Caribbean Center of Excellence in Child Development and Resilience. This Center would enable Reach Within (RW) to improve Caribbean childhood outcomes through trainings in early childhood development, education, abuse prevention, and interventions for children and their caregivers.
RW has secured a well-situated 33,000 square foot property in St. Andrews Parish, Grenada with fertile land for small-scale farming that can be used to lower operating costs, as well as for resiliency building therapy. RW will renovate the house and surrounding property with structural, safety, and disaster preparedness enhancements. A Grenadian architect has donated plans and committed to the conversion of the site’s house into three large training spaces, rooms for small group workshops or therapy, and dormitories.
While renovations are in progress, RW will hire new staff and advertise and schedule training collaborations. RW will create and fill an estimated 11 jobs for Grenadians to staff the center and oversee curriculum development and implementation alongside RW's administration. By leveraging collaborations with expert partners like the Child Trauma Academy, Supporting Child Caregivers Foundation, and the Sweet Water Foundation, as well as regional academic and non-governmental agencies, RW will provide diverse offerings to participants, including trauma-informed care trainings for up to 20 public and private stakeholder groups per year; clinical supervision for managers within each group; and quarterly trauma-informed care trainings for up to three caregiver groups per year, including biological parents, foster parents, and caregivers working in residential care homes.
Additionally, the center will improve caregiver self-care and decrease vicarious traumatization amongst professionals and caregivers by providing 104 stress reduction classes for caregivers or professionals caring for children and adolescents who have experienced childhood trauma; 12 “caregiver retreat days” with a focus on self-care practices; and quarterly focus groups for professionals and caregivers led by trained counselors.
Finally, the center will provide opportunities for vulnerable children and adolescents like regular yoga, drumming, and mindfulness activity sessions, quarterly child and adolescent-led focus groups; and five-week transitional life skills development curriculum cycles for young adults.
Ultimately, 460 professionals and caregivers and 500 young people will be positively impacted by this commitment.
Ongoing: fundraising to support full cost of center and building refurbishment.
Q3 & Q4 2020: Construction activities
Q1 - Q3 2020: The following activities will happen each quarter: trauma-informed care training for organizations and government agencies ; monthly clinical supervision for managers; hold trauma-informed care training for caregivers; hold caregiver focus group and retreat days; focus groups and holistic health sessions (yoga, drumming, breathing) for young adults and children; life skills training for young adults; quarterly guest lectures.
Present day developmental science has demonstrated the importance of early life relationships and interactions between children and their primary caregivers in establishing the foundation for one’s overall wellness and resilience, or illness and vulnerability. Early childhood is a period during which physical, and/or social-emotional regulatory structures emerge and become integrated into the child’s constantly evolving growth trajectory. Over time, the meanings from encounters and environments form the bio-psycho-social basis for the child’s view of his or herself, the world, and others, as well as the child’s perception of their place in their ever expanding world.
Research in developed countries has identified factors which can produce or enhance positive growth as well as stressors which can disrupt and/or derail expected cultural growth. Little similar work has been done in low-middle income developing nations such as Grenada or other Caribbean nations where young infants may be exposed to potentially negative disruptive factors such as poverty, neglect, high rates of alcoholism, physical and/or sexual abuse, witnessing domestic and/or neighborhood violence, harsh corporal punishment - all compounded by the intergenerational effects of colonialism and slavery and potential exposures to natural disasters. In Grenada, for example, according to Humanium, 56% of people under 25 live in poverty, and more than 33% of Grenadian children have suffered sexual violence, with incest a widespread but often unreported problem. From 2009-2013, the country's Child Protection Authority data revealed 1,503 reported cases of child maltreatment, where 34.9% were due to physical abuse, 33.1% for neglect and 29.1% due to sexual abuse as reported by UNICEF 2015. These factors, if left unaddressed, may lead to individual, family, community, and societal challenges. Meanwhile, there exists a recognized local and regional void of early childhood training programs that can inform better outcomes for children in the Caribbean region.
Reach Within would be seeking financial and media support from local and regional organizations for development of the project and its opening, including to strengthen the infrastructure of the center to be hurricane proof. Additionally, Reach Within would seek guidance regarding scaling this project up to other island nations sites so that other stakeholders in the region may benefit.
Reach Within would be offering user friendly culturally respectful educational materials, trainings and consultations relating to early childhood development, childhood adversity, parenting, and transitional guidance for youths aging out of care, resilience, abuse prevention, and interventions.