When Amber needed care for her three young foster children, she asked a friend for child care recommendations, they told her about the YMCA Preschool University. So when Amber learned her two oldest boys, Cole(3) and Cooper(2), were old enough to attend, she enrolled them at PSU.
When Cole first arrived at PSU, he was withdrawn and slow to warm up to people. Cole had PTSD and, from the request of his social worker, needed help with his social-emotional development, and Cooper’s language skills were so delayed he was close to nonverbal.
Many children in the foster system have trauma following abuse or neglect and often come from families struggling with multiple environmental stressors. Even the act of removing a child from their home for their safety adds further stress through the disruption of relationships.1
Studies have shown early relationships in infancy and childhood are essential. The disruption of caregiving relationships can lead to lifelong developmental consequences. Unsurprisingly, nearly half the children in the foster system have developmental delays.1
One of the ways to help support young children, especially those with high risks for developmental delays, is with preschool and early childhood education programs. High-quality early education programs help assure children are safe, learning, and active and provide connection to another caring adult trained to support child development and young children’s social and emotional well-being.1
Since enrolling Cole and Cooper in PSU, Amber says they have both excelled. “It is really exciting to see how far they have come,” said Amber. “You can see that the teachers really know how to work with the little kids on their level and teach them.”
“Cole has developed in many ways; he is sociable, independent, and curious about the world around him,” said Susana Serrato, Lead Teacher at YMCA Preschool University. “He has gone from speaking 3 to 4 words phrases to carrying out a short conversation. I would have never known that Cole had PTSD until I had the opportunity to speak to Amber about his progress one day.”
Early childhood is a critical stage in growth and development. The basic architecture of the brain starts before birth and continues through adulthood. Early experiences affect the quality of the architecture and set the foundation on which future development will grow. Children’s experiences with the people who consistently surround them influence the structure of their developing brain.2
“The foundation they give them there is setting them up for success,” said Amber. “I think what they are doing with these little guys is amazing.”
At the Y, we believe in nurturing the growth of all children through quality and affordable programs. When you support the Y, you support families in our community and help them access child care that develops healthy and happy children.
**Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.
1 in 4 foster children experience PTSD.3
- LA County. 2013.
- Harvard University. 2016.
- Youth Today. 2020.