A Comprehensive System of Care

Literacy development is a complex process that relies on the development of the whole child – including the closely entwined aspects of a child’s physical, social and emotional and cognitive health.

The Dunbar Learning Complex recognizes that a child’s health and well-being involve much more than the absence of disease. Consequently, it provides a wide array of programs and services to keep children on track in their physical, social, emotional, cognitive and verbal development.

In partnership with Children’s Health Care of Atlanta-Hughes Spalding and others, Educare Atlanta launched the Healthy Beginnings System of Care in spring 2011. Healthy Beginnings is staffed by a full-time health navigator, a registered nurse who is a Children’s Health Care employee based at the school. The health navigator interacts with children and their families, acting as a liaison between the families and health care providers and identifying and addressing health issues in partnership with teachers and parents. She helps parents secure health insurance coverage for their children and build and maintain relationships with their child’s primary care physician. She also keeps the children’s health immunizations up-to-date. These services are critical to the healthy development of Educare Atlanta children: 31 percent suffer from asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions.

To ensure that children are developing on track physically, socially and emotionally, the family support specialists work with parents and teachers to screen children for developmental skills, using Ages & Stages Questionnaires-3 and Ages & Stages Questionnaires-Social Emotional. Staff use these evidence-based tools at regular intervals over the course of a child’s enrollment at Educare Atlanta to measure development and address any issues of concern in a timely manner. The screening results are shared with the child’s physician and used as part of the physician’s overall health assessment.

The complex employs the evidence-based 4Rs Program (Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution) to support children’s social and emotional development. In addition, the complex has adopted behavioral expectations that teachers call the ABCDs: Act kindly; Be responsible; Come Prepared/Communicate; and Do your very best. Teachers have created specific models for children’s behavior based on the ABCDs and reinforce expectations based on them.

The 4Rs Program, developed by the Morningside Center in New York City, is used with prekindergarten through third-grade children. This innovative program helps children learn to understand and handle their feelings, solve problems and cooperate by integrating social and emotional learning and language arts. In weekly sessions, teachers use an interactive curriculum built on great children’s literature as they engage students in reading, writing, discussion and skills practice aimed at fostering caring, responsible behavior. A 4Rs staff developer from Morningside visits the complex each month to model, coach and lead professional development workshops for the teachers. The complex also offers a five-part parent workshop series to reinforce the life skills of the program with parents.

The staff at the complex help us understand what our children should be doing at every stage of their development. If they aren’t there yet, we get guidance on things to do to help them get there. It’s wonderful to have this kind of support.”
– Stephanie Flowers, Dunbar Learning Complex parent and Parent Outreach Specialist