Innovative Staff Wellness Practices

In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, the significance of innovative staff wellness practices cannot be emphasized enough. Children First’s innovative staff wellness practices go beyond the traditional approach of providing basic amenities; they involve creative strategies that address the multifaceted needs of employees in novel and impactful ways. Through the Staff Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), Children First offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), professional development opportunities, mental health counseling, and much more.  Click on the tabs to learn more about Children First’s innovative staff wellness practices.

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A boy with glasses

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Children First offers an enhanced Employee Assistance Program. It is free of charge to employees and their household members.  This confidential service offers assistance in many areas including relationships, transitions, risks and challenges.

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Mental Health Services

Prioritizing the mental well-being of staff within an organization cannot be emphasized enough. Children First has shown a profound understanding of this by fostering a work environment that is supportive and empathetic. This commitment is exemplified through their collaboration with Kathryn Shea, a seasoned licensed clinical social worker with over 40 years of experience. Kathryn leads monthly “Thursday Topic Time” discussions for all staff, offers training sessions, contributes a dedicated section called “Kathryn’s Corner” in the monthly Comprehensive Services Staff Newsletter, and is also available for individual consultations with staff. Investing in staff’s mental health yields substantial returns for long-term success and organizational sustainability, it lays the foundation for robust collaboration, innovation, and personal growth.

Diverse group of people sitting in circle in group therapy session.

Meet Kathryn Shea:

Kathryn Shea received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky. She served as the President and CEO of The Florida Center for Early Childhood in Sarasota, FL for 12 years, whose mission is the healthy development of young children, their families, and communities.

Kathryn Shea, an older woman with white hair, a red blouse and long necklace. She is smiling.

Staff Wellness Committee

The Staff Wellness Committee is dedicated to a crucial mission: the creation of well-defined and attainable wellness initiatives that prioritize the overall well-being of Children First staff, children, and families, as well as recognizing the pivotal role that staff wellness plays in the organization’s success.

Understanding that a thriving staff directly correlates with the quality of care and support provided to children and families, the committee’s efforts center around establishing a holistic approach to well-being. By addressing the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of wellness, the committee aims to foster an environment where staff members can flourish both personally and professionally.

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Staff Support Services

Establishing a nurturing atmosphere for staff requires a comprehensive strategy that encompasses a range of components. To consistently cultivate competency in providing nurturing and responsive teaching practices, interactions, and environments that foster trust and emotional security, Children First promotes staff’s social and emotional well-being through regular check-ins, STAR POWER and S6 Programs.  The STAR POWER Program supports staff for the well-being of children. There are three Star Powers: CO-STAR- staff Collaborate and Offer support to each other; STAR POWER- Pause, Own your Feelings, Walk away, Elicit support, Regroup; ROCK STAR- Recognize that there is a need, Offer to step in, Coach the child or parent, Know that your CO-STAR will do the same for you!  The STAR Powers are grounded in mindfulness and self-regulation techniques. The S6 Program (See Something, Say Something to Support Staff) is designed to support staff in alignment with our core values.  By demonstrating a genuine concern for staff’s mental and emotional health, Children First empowers staff to better support the children in their care.

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Professional Development Opportunities

The significance of professional development in nurturing staff wellness is of the utmost importance. As organizations evolve in today’s dynamic landscape, continuous learning becomes a cornerstone of personal and professional growth. Providing opportunities for staff to engage in targeted training, skill enhancement, and knowledge enrichment not only enhances their expertise but also instills a sense of value and purpose in their roles.  Children First continuously offers opportunities for professional development in staff wellness.  Here are some examples:

“Self-Care to Foster Resilience for Head Start Workers”

Self-care is an indispensable practice for nurturing resilience among Children First Staff, enabling them to navigate the demanding nature of their roles while maintaining their well-being. By prioritizing self-care, Children First Staff can fortify their physical, emotional, and mental reserves, equipping themselves to effectively support the children and families they serve.

“Health Care Institute”

Establishing a culture within Children First using a management system approach aimed at cultivating health literacy and fostering family engagement.