Center for Excellence in Child Well-Being Receives $6.5 Million Grant

little girl crying
Funding will support provider training programs to address challenging behaviors and keep kids enrolled in child care.

A University of Missouri School of Medicine researcher has received an additional $6.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to train child care professionals on how to support the social and emotional development of young children and address challenging behaviors.

Laine Young-Walker, MD
Laine Young-Walker, MD

Laine Young-Walker, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Associate Dean for Student Programs, oversees the Center for Excellence in Child Well-Being, which conducts training programs throughout Missouri. Young-Walker was awarded $6.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds in 2022 to launch the child care provider training program. This new award runs through July 2024.

“Our social-emotional learning training for child care professionals enables caregivers to respond to conflict and challenging behaviors,” said Young-Walker. “Caregivers learn strategies to promote the child's social-emotional competencies so the child can manage their emotions, learn from their mistakes and make different choices, thereby reducing the possibility of an incident that might cause a child to be removed from a program.”

The training equips daycare and preschool employees with tools to teach children how to interact with others, develop interpersonal communication skills, and to regulate their emotions. Trainings will be scheduled across the state of Missouri. Larger childcare centers can host a training on-site. Virtual training opportunities are also available.

“Challenging behaviors from children put their placement in a child care setting at risk,” said Julie Allen, director of operations for the Center for Excellence in Child Well-Being. “If a child is removed because of behavior, it impacts parents’ ability to work. Our goal is to give providers tools to minimize these types of disruptions that not only impact the child care setting, but also families and communities.”

The grant funding comes from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education through the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.