Brain Development and Early Intervention
Learning About Brain Development
More than forty years ago, Any Baby Can was founded as CEDEN (Center for Development, Education and Nutrition) Child and Family Resource Center. As our agency has grown, our commitment to early intervention and whole family well-being has not wavered. Our first director Dr. Emily Vargas-Barón designed and developed the home-based model that we still use at Any Baby Can. She was the leader and trailblazer for many early intervention programs used throughout the world today. One of the founding tenets at Any Baby Can has been innovation in early childhood intervention, and we continue on this path.
Recently, our staff was selected to participate in the Brain Story Certification, an intensive, year-long program for those seeking a deeper understanding of brain development and its impact on lifelong health. Twenty employees—some who provide direct services and some of our administrative staff—embarked on this journey to better understand child development, and to adapt our services and operations to align with evidence-based best practices.
Consequences of Early Experiences
At Any Baby Can we know that relationships and experiences early on in life can have a big impact on a person’s future, which is why we’re committed to investing in child development and early intervention.
Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) developed the Brain Story Certification to educate policy-makers, social workers, and other health professionals on the science of brain development and the effect that early experiences have on physical and mental health later in life.
The Brain Story team hosted monthly meetings with the trainers from Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. Any Baby Can staff participated in 19 modules ranging in topics from toxic stress, adverse childhood experience (ACE), brain architecture and genetics, children’s mental health, and addiction.
Through a series of educational resources and videos presented by leading experts from all over the world, our staff had the opportunity to dig into data and proven treatments and therapies related to brain science, including examples of successful intervention methods delivered through programs like our very own Nurse-Family Partnership. Through group conversations staff brainstormed ways to implement or improve service delivery based on this in-depth knowledge.
Understanding our Client Families
While many of the principles in brain science are already part of our programs at Any Baby Can, the certification served as confirmation and data-driven validation of the work that we do every day.
“Everything we learned was very validating and affirming. We see it as an opportunity, and a reminder about our role and our mission. It’s never too late to change the trajectory of your family’s experiences,” says Veronda Durden, Any Baby Can President and CEO.
The process of going through the certification brought new understanding and respect for our clients, the journey that they’re on, and the challenges they have overcome in order to participate in our programs. As a result, our staff have created action steps that will impact our policy and legislative priorities, organizational development, and client engagement strategies.
One of the key takeaways was the role of trauma in our clients’—and our own—lives. Sixty percent of people have had an adverse childhood experience, which can include anything like a divorce in the family to discrimination and violence. Trauma has an effect on health outcomes for everyone. We’re looking at ways to become more trauma-informed as an organization, including offering trauma-informed training for our staff.
While early intervention is a critical time in brain development to address concerns and lessen the effects of adverse experiences, it is also never too late. Statistics show that even if someone has had many traumatic experiences, the brain is malleable and can change through the support of a loving caregiver, dedicated service staff, and support from community resources.
“I’ll forever be changed because of the Brain Story Certification,” adds Veronda, “I have a better understanding of the brain, our journey, and of the power of early intervention.”
In all, the experience provided greater appreciation and data on both programmatic effectiveness as well as messaging, fundraising and client services.
AFWI also offers a Brain Story Toolkit and other amazing, free resources for anyone interested in brain development, early intervention and just gaining a better understanding on how life’s experiences affect your own health.
Early Childhood Intervention
The most effective time to improve a child’s ability to grow and learn is before the age of three.
Child Development Services
We provide coaching for parents and caregivers to ensure children reach their full potential.
Invest in Child Development
Parental stress has an impact on a child’s potential, therefore we work to also empower caregivers.