Trauma Informed Practice

SUNY Cobleskill Offers New Trauma-Informed Practice for Early Childhood Microcredential; Curriculum to be Assessed by the NYS Association for Infant Mental Health

Microcredential Represents a First for NYS-AIMH in Curriculum Assessment

SUNY Cobleskill’s Early Childhood Studies: Birth – Age 5 Bachelor of Science program, offered through the College’s School of Business and Liberal Arts and Sciences, is now offering a microcredential in Trauma-Informed Practice for Early Childhood. Available to both current students and non-matriculated participants, the curriculum will be assessed by the New York State Association for Infant Mental Health (NYS-AIMH), an organization increasing public awareness and supporting the development of Infant Mental Health multidisciplinary specialists throughout our state.

Students taking this microcredential will gain in-depth knowledge of infant-toddler development and the impact of trauma on children’s brain development and social-emotional well-being and can pursue NYS-AIMH endorsement. Endorsement tells employers, parents, health and legal practitioners, and insurance providers that the endorsed professional has expertise related to the social and emotional development of infants and young children and families.

Elise Weiss, department chair and assistant professor in SUNY Cobleskill’s Early Childhood program, developed the microcredential along with Dr. Carol Morris, assistant professor.

The microcredential came about through affiliations between SUNY Cobleskill faculty and the Schoharie County ACEs Team. “Through conversations with the ACEs Team, we realized that Adverse Childhood Experiences was an area of study that we needed to incorporate in our coursework,” said Weiss. “Adverse Childhood Experiences affect the brain in a profound manner, so it is vital that professionals in the field are educated to recognize and respond to signs and manifestations of trauma that they see in the children they work with on a daily basis in their classrooms.”

The relationship between health risk behavior and disease in adulthood and the breadth of exposure to childhood emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and household dysfunction during childhood was first described in the landmark CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in 1995.

“Researchers involved in the study saw how common it was for people to have Adverse Childhood Experiences, and it also told them that this was happening to all of us, not just children living in situations of poverty,” said Wendy Bender, executive director of NYS-AIMH. “This resulted in early childhood education professionals realizing that trauma was something we needed to be paying attention to in a very different way.”

NYS-AIMH received grant funding through the New York State Office of Mental Health to survey 175 clinicians statewide. Responses revealed the most common comment to be that clinicians had no education in dealing with trauma. The Association’s work with SUNY Cobleskill is its first foray in assessing a curriculum with plans to assist in guiding curricula at other institutions and organizations across the state in the future.

The microcredential’s curriculum is also informed by the COVID-19 pandemic, explains Weiss. “COVID-19 is an Adverse Childhood Experience. As so often is the case, things that happen in the world strongly and negatively impact the most vulnerable. We need our future teachers and childcare professionals to be prepared to meet the needs of the most vulnerable who are living through this global health crisis.”

Registration is currently open for summer and fall course offerings. To receive more information, please submit a short questionnaire form here:

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