About Al’s Caring Pals: A Social Skills Toolkit For Home Child Care Providers

Al’s Caring Pals provides training and materials for home-based child care providers that develop social skills and healthy decision-making in children 3 – 8 years old.

Based on resilience and protective factors research, Al’s Caring Pals strengthens the abilities of caregivers to support children’s positive development, build meaningful relationships with children, and create a nurturing environment.

kids and stories

Al’s Caring Pals was developed in response to repeated requests to use our core program – Al’s Pals:  Kids Making Healthy Choices – in home-based child care settings, also known as family child care homes.

Al’s Caring Pals is designed specifically for home-based child care.  Lively training sessions address the unique aspects of this setting and build the skills of providers.  Down-to-earth approaches and practical materials prepare providers to help children learn to express and manage feelings, solve problems peacefully, accept differences, control impulses, cope, and make safe and healthy choices.

How It Works

Al’s Caring Pals provides training for local groups of home-based child care providers to strengthen their ability to nurture social-emotional development of the children in their care.  The Al’s Caring Pals materials kit equips each home-based child care provider with easy-to-use tools to develop children’s skills related to traits of resilience such as self-control, social competence and problem-solving.

Materials Kit for Home Child Care Providers

The Al’s Caring Pals kit contains materials designed specifically for the home-based child care setting. Drawn from Wingspan’s nationally recognized early childhood program, Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices, the kit materials include:
1r
  • Flipcard activity book
  • Music CD with original songs
  • Songbook
  • Calm Down and Problem-Solving posters
  • Photo

 

The flipcard book offers straight-forward strategies that help children learn to:

  • use words to express feelings
  • control impulses
  • calm down
  • share
  • solve problems peacefully
  • accept differences
  • cope
  • make safe and healthy choices

Each activity card in the flipbook has a clearly stated learning objective.  The music CD, songbook, posters and photo are used throughout the day and provide ongoing opportunities for the children to practice and generalize the prosocial behaviors they learn.  Letters to parents are also available to communicate what their children are learning and offer activities to do at home to reinforce the children’s skills.

Training Sessions for Home Child Care Providers

Training sessions for home-based child care providers are conducted by local facilitators who have completed Wingspan’s training.  These fun, interactive educational sessions are structured to build a sense of community and support for the participants.  In this relaxed environment, providers learn and practice how to reinforce positive social behaviors in children.  They discuss how to incorporate Al’s Caring Pals materials and approaches into their daily activities.

Al’s Caring Pals educational sessions use experiential learning methods to strengthen the providers’ abilities to:  girlalspals

    • listen to children
    • teach and encourage use of feeling language and kind words
    • value children’s individuality
    • develop children’s creativity
    • guide problem-solving
    • involve children meaningfully in daily activities
    • communicate clear norms regarding healthy choices

The providers leave each session with practical strategies to enrich their child care environment.

Training for Local Facilitators

Local facilitators from a variety of fields – early childhood, resource and referral agencies, social services, prevention, cooperative extension, faith-based and community organizations – can effectively lead Al’s Caring Pals educational sessions.

As part of the Al’s Caring Pals package, local facilitators participate in Wingspan training to prepare them to conduct educational sessions with home-based child care providers.  The same strengths-based framework of our parent education program, Here, Now and Down the Road, is applied to the educational sessions for home providers.

training

Training topics to prepare local facilitators include:

    • How to apply the concepts of resilience and protective factors to daily interactions with children
    • Strategies that promote the social and emotional development of young children
    • Effective use of experiential learning approaches
    • Strategies to support effective implementation of Al’s Caring Pals

Some local facilitators make phone calls and/or periodic visits to provide support and feedback to the providers. Wingspan provides a complimentary Implementation and Monitoring Observation Form for local facilitators to help support fidelity.

Materials for Al’s Caring Pals Local Facilitators

Al’s Caring Pals facilitator materials are available only to individuals who complete Wingspan training.  The facilitator’s materials include:

    • An extensive leader’s manual of experiential modules for educational sessions, complete with instructional narratives, engaging group activities, and feedback cards
    • Seven original songs on CD
    • Reproducible masters of handouts and letters for providers to send home to the parents of children in their care (also available in Spanish)
    • Resilience and protective factors posters (also available in Spanish)

Al’s Caring Pals Overview | Al’s Caring Pals Effectiveness | Getting Started With Al’s Caring Pals