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UMass Donahue Institute’s New Business Group Focuses on Social, Emotional Health

HADLEY — As the UMass Donahue Institute’s newest business group, Connected Beginnings Training Institute (CBTI) further strengthens an already robust portfolio of early-childhood training and technical-assistance services across New England by focusing on the social and emotional health of children from birth to age 8.

Research suggests that positive, supportive, enriching, and nurturing relationships with adults and other children are critical to young children’s social and emotional well-being, mental health, evolving brain architecture, and capacity to learn. Connected Beginnings Training Institute builds the capacity of infant and early-childhood practitioners to engage in nurturing relationships with families and the very young children in their care.

“We recognize the especially critical period of growth in babies and very young children, as well as the unique demands that presents on families and the practitioners that seek to support them,” said CBTI Director Mary Watson Avery. “Our goal is to build the capacity in all the disciplines serving families with very young children, so that they feel ready to support the social and emotional needs of whomever walks in their door.”

Connected Beginnings Training Institute was launched in 2006 by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay/Merrimack Valley Inc. CBTI then partnered with Wheelock College from 2011 to 2018.

The professional-development activities offered by CBTI include training, coaching, assessment, consultation, and evaluation. Each offering is designed to provide practitioners, administrators, and policy makers with the most current and evidence-based research in a wide range of disciplines contributing to the field of infant and early-childhood mental health.

The UMass Donahue Institute has established itself as a national and regional leader in early-childhood training and technical assistance with the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations and the New England Head Start Training & Technical Assistance business group.

“The addition of Connected Beginnings Training Institute further expands our ability to serve the early-childhood education and care community here in Massachusetts, across the New England region, and nationally,” said Eric Heller, the UMass Donahue Institute’s interim executive director. “We are thrilled to have CBTI’s expertise and reputation join that of our distinguished Head Start training and technical programs.”

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