A new experiment in New Haven childcare, inspired by a Yale graduate and Yale psychologist, kick-started this October and continues to aid the relationship between New Haven parents and children.

All Our Kin, a community-based child-care center, co-founded by Yale graduate Janna Wagner ’95, has developed the Circle of Security Project, which attempts to find a creative way to impact the caregiver’s childcare skills. Currently, 35 parents and other childcare providers in the greater New Haven, Bridgeport and Norwalk areas are participating in the eight-week program that program organizers said aims to change peoples’ perspectives on childcare. Dr. Sarah Gray, psychology fellow in early childhood at the Yale Child Study Centre who helped develop the course said the program hopes to utilize further Yale expertise in the future.

“We want people to understand that parents and nannies are not baby-sitters, but family childcare providers. We don’t want people to feel guilty about the relationships they have with their children,” said Paula Simpson, Senior Educational Consultant at All our Kin, and former worker at the Yale Divinity Nursery School. “Through the COS-P program, we want to be able to provide them with the necessary tools for reflection and development.”

Gray has been working with All Our Kin, since early October, to develop the program. COS-P is based on the Attachment Theory, developed by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth. The theory proposes that babies need secure attachment with their primary caregivers in order to develop into healthy and secure individuals. The program aims to help family childcare providers improve their relationships with their children, facilitate parental bonding and consequently aid the social and emotional development of children.

The course meets once a week for one and a half hour long training sessions. The model used is interactive video viewing.

After watching a series of videos, participants are asked questions that force them to reflect on their relationships with their own children, Wagner said. She emphasized that the COS-P program encourages caregivers to think not only about the behavior that they exhibit towards their children but also about the causes of the behavior. She also said the model also endeavors to assess the stress levels, confidence levels, efficacy, and levels of social and emotional understanding of the family child-care providers.

Simpson said she hopes the program helps create greater connections between childcare providers and children in the New Haven community.

“We hope to change the way parents, teachers, and other childcare providers approach the idea of childcare. Children are not seeking attention; they are seeking to make a connection,” Simpson said.

In addition to helping parents become better childcare providers, Simpson said COS-P should help participants improve relationships in other areas of their life.

The All Our Kin Team also expressed hopes to expand collaboration with the Yale community to develop the COS-P program in future.

“New Haven is a city significantly affected by homelessness and drug abuse. It would be great to have the support of the Yale community to make New Haven a better place through the COS-P project,” Simpson said.

According to All Our Kin’s website, their team trains and supports over 250 parents and educators each year, who in turn serve nearly 1,500 children.