“Pyramid Plus” housed at CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development

DENVER – Research has found that up to 40 percent of young children exhibit serious behavioral challenges that can result in a tremendous risk of school failure early on, followed by adult lives characterized by violence, abuse, loneliness, and anxiety. Data also indicate that less than 50 percent of preschoolers with disabilities are enrolled in typical early childhood settings. “Pyramid Plus: The Colorado Center for Social Emotional Competence and Inclusion,” has been created to address both of these issues in Colorado. The center is newly funded and now housed and operating out of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver.

According to the program’s project coordinator, there is increasing evidence that shows young children who exhibit challenging behavior are more likely to experience peer rejection, and negative family and teacher interactions. “Say you have a student who is mature enough to sit, listen, follow directions, and be respectful while there may be another student who can’t sit still—the child is throwing things, interrupting the teacher, and disrupting the learning environment of the entire classroom,” said Abby English, Pyramid Plus project coordinator at CU Denver. “Clearly, the more emotionally and socially developed a child is, the better they are equipped to learn.”

The goal of Pyramid Plus is to increase the use of evidence-based, social emotional and inclusive practices in early care and educational settings, including family home care.

Pyramid Plus will build the statewide competence of personnel through a network of certified trainers and program coaches to broaden the reach of the approach through visits to early care and educational settings throughout Colorado where they can train and coach employees who teach Colorado’s children. All certification candidates are required to commit to extensive training that when completed, will make them highly qualified in the approaches as well as making the program they are working for more effective with families and children.

“Growing a network of certified trainers and coaches is like building roads from a central hub or city,” said Barbara Smith, director of the Pyramid Plus program and research professor at CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development. “First you might have 20 roads, which then grows to 40, then 80, and keeps getting bigger and reaches more parts of the state. It’s the same concept for certified trainers and coaches. Our goal is to have certified trainers and coaches available to every early care and education program throughout Colorado.”

The vision for Pyramid Plus is to build the capability of early care and education professionals statewide to use these evidence-based approaches and thereby improving children’s social emotional competence and opportunities for inclusion. This vision involves statewide cooperation in promoting the model. In addition to partners and funders like the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Care, Division of Behavioral Health, and the Division for Developmental Disabilities / Early Intervention, Pyramid Plus also has a team of other state agencies and programs supporting their work.

For more information about the Pyramid Plus program, or to sign up for the Pyramid Plus e-mail newsletter, please visit www.pyramidplus.org.

The University of Colorado Denver is located in Denver on the Downtown Campus and on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. CU Denver offers more than 100 degrees and programs in 13 schools and colleges and serves more than 28,000 students. For more information, visit the CU Denver Newsroom.

Contact: Tonya Ewers-Maikish, 303.315.6374, [email protected]

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