By Jan Wondra, Ark Valley Voice, June 17, 2019.
A locally-organized event brought cutting edge research and proven childhood intervention programs to rural Colorado last month, paving the way for a new community approach to early childhood outcomes. The conference also provided the opportunity to highlight the pilot launch in Chaffee County of Seedlings Model of Change, a program intended to break the link between parental history of toxic stress, and the effects of that stress on children.
The conference emphasis: understanding the effects of early childhood stress and trauma on the development of children and applying prevention to help them move past early trauma of tough starts, low incomes, domestic abuse and neglect, unstable housing and family situations.
“A baby born today has a lower life expectancy than three years ago, and that hasn’t happened since World War I,” said one of the keynote speakers, professor of the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver, Sarah Enos Watamura, Ph.D. “Now we have enough pieces to figure out not only what to do to improve outcomes but to do it now. Frankly, income affects the way your brain grows. Higher income means more gray matter. It’s the words kids hear, the things families do with the kids. Every increment of income up to about $50,000 matters. After that – no.”