Massachusetts Partners with BTC to Bring Touchpoints to Providers Across the State


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June 7, 2023

Nearly 200 family-facing professionals across Massachusetts are participating in Touchpoints trainings, thanks to a renewed partnership between the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (MA EEC). This partnership reinvigorates and builds upon an ongoing relationship with MA EEC that dates back a decade when federal Race to the Top funding made it possible for an initial 200 practitioners to be trained in Touchpoints at that time.

MA EEC recently sought out BTC to offer its 28-hour foundational Touchpoints experiential learning and mentorship in the How of Child and Family Engagement to a diverse workforce that includes Head Start and Early Head Start teachers, EEC staff, mental health consultants, and frontline staff at the state’s 83 Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) programs. These CFCEs are found in every corner of the state and act as community-based, coordinated hubs of activities, resources, and referrals for families from the prenatal period through children age 5.

Haji Shearer

The CFCEs create spaces where parents and young children are supported to play and interact together and with other families. These safe and welcoming spaces reduce isolation and boost healthy child and family development, according to Haji Shearer, MA EEC’s Associate Commissioner of Family and Community Supports. They offer parent groups, reading programs, and play-based activities, as well as information on child development, economic assistance for families, and transitioning children to formal early education and care settings.

Shearer, a renowned early education leader, was looking for a professional development program that would both provide a strong foundation in engaging families for newer staff and enhance the skill set of veteran providers after the grueling three-year pandemic. He was familiar with Dr. Berry Brazelton’s work and the Touchpoints model, and had been impressed with several BTC staff he had worked with, but it was the endorsement of some of his new MA EEC colleagues that led to this current work.

“People on my team told me they had gone through the Touchpoints training a decade ago and still remembered the huge positive impact it had on their personal and professional life,” Shearer said. “After a successful application process, Brazelton was selected to do another series of trainings.”

“What’s so special about this training is it has taken these years of experience – both from Dr. Brazelton and from others on the team – and organized it into a cohesive course that can be delivered to other professionals in a culturally appropriate, adult-oriented way. People who are in the field can be reinvigorated and have a chance to step back and reflect on their work and why it is so important,” Shearer explained.

Shearer is so excited by the Touchpoints Approach that he signed up for one of the training cohorts himself, despite his busy schedule and decades of experience working with families of young children. “I felt it was important as a leader in the organization to really understand what I was asking people to do, and I’ve been impressed,” he said.

Photo of Jayne Singer
Dr. Jayne Singer

Dr. Jayne Singer, BTC’s Director of Clinical Training and Developmental and Relational Health, and past president of the Massachusetts Association for Infant Mental Health, was instrumental in renewing this partnership with MA EEC. A clinical psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an endorsed® Infant Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) clinical mentor, Dr. Singer worked for many years to adapt the Touchpoints Approach – originally developed for pediatric primary care providers – for early childhood educators, mental health providers, home visitors, and early interventionists. She is thrilled about this renewed partnership and especially honored that Haji Shearer is participating in one of the Touchpoints learning cohorts that she is facilitating.

MA EEC and the Massachusetts Association for Infant Mental Health, a member of the national Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (AAIMH) have been offering the AAIMH Endorsement® credential for family-facing providers in developmentally informed, relationship-based, culturally sensitive practice. Touchpoints training and reflective supervision offers an approved pathway in that professional development journey, as deemed by AAIMH. 

BTC’s partnership with MA EEC is just one example of the ways BTC collaborates with state systems to improve the knowledge and skills of the early childhood workforce, including home visitors, early childhood educators, early interventionists, and family engagement professionals. The pandemic caused many child care and early education professionals to leave their jobs, leading to understaffed or completely shuttered programs across the country. As a result, the demand for Touchpoints training for early childhood care and education centers and state systems is greater now than ever as they prepare newcomers to the field for one of the most important yet most undervalued and underpaid professions in the United States.

In recent years, BTC has delivered Touchpoints, its Strengths-based Family Engagement workshop series, its workshops on mental health, and other professional development trainings in several states, including, for example, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, West Virginia, Vermont, California, and Maine.

Would you like to learn how you can partner with BTC to bring the Touchpoints Approach and other trainings to your state?

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