Understanding Project ACT
Project ACT provides professional development to over 2,000 child care providers annually throughout the state of Maryland. Through the Early Childhood Consultation program, Project ACT provides services to approximately 100 children each year and 97% of these children have been able to remain in a community child care setting as a result of the services they, their teachers, and their families receive. Private foundation support and government funding allow Project ACT to provide intensive training, coaching and mentoring to child care programs and family child care provider which serve low income children and families with a focus on improving quality of care and school readiness. Project ACT serves as the Child Resource and Referral Center for Baltimore, Harford and Cecil Counties providing resource support and professional development to child care providers and families in these jurisdictions.
Steven was four years old when he was referred to Project ACT by his preschool program. Steven had difficulty interacting with his peers appropriately and participating in teacher planned activities, such as circle time. His diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder made it difficult for his teachers to know how to best support him and include him in their classroom. Project ACT worked with Steven’s teachers to boost his social skills by adding social stories about appropriate social interactions and facilitating appropriate play between him and his peers. Project ACT also provided suggestions to help Steven be involved in circle time. Along with the support provided to the classroom, Project ACT helped Steven’s parents advocate for their son at Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings to ensure that Steven received all of the services that he was entitled to. Steven transitioned to a public school classroom for kindergarten with supports in place to help him succeed.
Chelsea is a four year old girl in Baltimore County who was referred to Project ACT for negative behavior she exhibited in the classroom. Chelsea's teachers reported that she struggled in interactions with her peers and had a difficult time sharing preferred toys such as dolls or blocks. When Chelsea became frustrated, she often engaged in aggressive behavior (hitting or kicking) in an attempt to have her needs met. Chelsea was often noncompliant in the classroom and did not follow classroom routines. Transitions were frequently difficult for Chelsea and she often wandered away from her teacher as the class walked to the playground or to the bathroom. Project ACT provided social stories that Chelsea's teachers read to her that help her anticipate how to navigate difficult situations with her peers and follow classroom rules. Project ACT worked with the teachers to create visual representations of the rules to remind Chelsea and her classmates of the classroom expectations. As Project ACT and the teachers continued to provide support in the classroom, Chelsea's behavior improved. The teachers reported that her instances of aggression decreased and that she began to interact more positively with her peers. Chelsea transitioned to a new classroom as the school year began in September and although she occasionally exhibits challenging behavior in the classroom, her behavior has improved overall and she is a valued member of her class.