Program Profile: Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Center−International Village in Atlanta, Georgia
Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Center–International Village is committed to strengthening families and building their resilience in an ever-changing community.
The community highly values children and their families, as evidenced by the program’s presence there. Diane Bellem, vice president of the Georgia Training Institute, which is part of Sheltering Arms, says, “Mothers and fathers, regardless of race, income, cultural identity, or religion, enroll their children in the center, confident that their children will be safe and learning and their whole family will be accepted and valued. We are mindful that each family is unique, and while they may have similarities within their cultural groups, all people in a cultural group are not the same. Bringing people together from diverse backgrounds is a challenge we embrace.”
Family support is a core service and an intentional part of the program’s mission. While the management team includes two family support coordinators, the program embeds family support in a holistic, day-to-day, whole-program approach. Family engagement is key to the program’s success with children, and staff strive to inform, involve, and inspire parents.
Sheltering Arms–International Village has several goals for family support, including
Sheltering Arms draws heavily from the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families approach for building a strong foundation with five protective factors.
Family Engagement Program Practices
Learning Activities at Home and in the Community
A Comprehensive Program-Level System
Elaine Draeger, Sheltering Arms’ executive director, explains, “We want our staff prepared to increase their intentionality in the work they already do with families. We also want them to play a greater role in an ‘early warning system’ to prevent child abuse and neglect. We offer staff a menu of courses to enhance skills and competence in building the protective factors so they can fully implement the Strengthening Families strategies.”
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.