Circle of Security Parenting™ Receives National Attention: An Evidence-Based Strategy Featured in 50-State Summary Report

Every child is worthy and capable of thriving; some just need a little more support. During the early years of birth through three, these supports are especially crucial to set up a child to thrive in every area of his or her life.  

“Thrive” is a word we use a lot here at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.  

By “thrive,” we mean that every child should have healthy social emotional relationships with their families, friends, and caregivers starting from an early age and spanning throughout life. Who better to set up a child for success, especially those children who possess developmental delays and mental health conditions, than their parents?  
 

That’s why we’re pleased to see our approach to helping children thrive, which includes evidence-based strategies like Circle of Security Parenting (COSP), presented in a national report.  

Sami Bradley, Nebraska Children’s Assistant Vice President of Early Childhood Mental Health, echoes this sentiment. She’s long contributed her expertise to our various early childhood initiatives and community partners, including Rooted in Relationships.  

Sami has long been an expert in early childhood mental health, so we're glad she is a part of Nebraska Children.
Sami has long been an expert in early childhood mental health, so we’re glad she is a part of Nebraska Children.

Sami’s goal is like ours: to create and sustain systems of care that ensure every child from birth through age eight receives the social emotional support they need.  

COSP is among one of the evidence-based strategies we use that set up children and families to create safe and secure attachments. Other early childhood promotion and prevention strategies include the Pyramid Model and Parents Interacting With Infants (PIWI), and more, that are among our statewide prevention systems. Promotion and prevention efforts are especially important during a child’s early years, when they form countless neural pathways that influence everything from future relationships to kindergarten readiness. 

We’re glad to see COSP and the work being done in Nebraska presented in a national summary of each state’s findings from early childhood programs for children with developmental delays or mental health setbacks.   

The report is entitled “Supporting Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs of Young Children Through Part C Early Intervention.” The surveys were conducted by the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF). Among the survey’s main inquiries included compiling state Part C Coordinators, and other partners to discuss their initiative’s sponsors, workforce development, and financing.  

A hands-on leader, even before joining Nebraska Children, Sami worked as a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner with children ages birth through 18 specializing in various forms of therapy. She is also a Circle of Security facilitator herself.  

Before Sami joined Nebraska Children, she specialized in various forms of therapies. She is also, as shown in the picture, a parent herself!
Before Sami joined Nebraska Children, she specialized in various forms of therapies. She is also, as shown in the picture, a parent herself!

Sami echoes our organization’s mission for a better Nebraska.   

“I am incredibly passionate about Circle of Security Parenting, both personally and professionally,” said Sami. “COSP focuses on secure relationships, something that is the very foundation of what we need as human beings.”  

COSP’s methods help families enhance their protective and promotive factors, which are equally crucial to their well-being. Factors for families’ thriving include fostering parental knowledge of early childhood development, building healthy social connections, obtaining concrete supports such as transportation, housing, and food, and establishing social emotional competence. Sami, Lynne Brehm, Nebraska Children’s Associate Vice President of Children’s Mental Health, and Nebraska Department of Education’s Amy Bunnell contributed to the article.  

Sami said that COSP is important because it enforces autonomy and vulnerability in parents and children alike.  

“When children (and adults) are secure, they are better able to solve problems on their own, but also ask for help when it’s needed,” said Sami. “They are also more likely to be able to the trust the people they love,” she said.  

Sami went on to say, however, that some of these habits aren’t always organic for everyone.  

“While some of this [behavior] comes so naturally to parents, oftentimes there are ‘hiccups’ along the way. COSP gives a roadmap to help figure it out,” she said.  

COSP's evidence-based strategies are designed to enhance families' protective and promotive factors, including building healthy social connents.
COSP’s evidence-based strategies are designed to enhance families’ protective and promotive factors, including building healthy social connents.

Sami said that COSP has even informed her communication with her child.  

“Where once I might have said, ‘Don’t be scared, I will keep you safe,’ I now say, ‘I know you are scared, but I am here with you,’” said Sami. “At the end of the day, relationships are what matter most, and this is based on decades of research in secure attachment.”  

As an organization that knows we can prevent problems early before they become crises, COSP fits into our vision, as the strategies assist families early on so their children can thrive.  

What is it?  

COSP is an eight-week-long program where caregivers meet in a group setting and is intended for families whose children are under six years old, although is applicable through those teenage years. The program works by enhancing parents’ presence as a consistent form of security throughout their child’s life.  

Nebraska currently has 50 communities and about 240 certified COSP trainers.  

Why COSP? 

COSP is implemented so that parents can acclimate and tailor their care towards their children’s needs. Enhancing security is an especially important part of parenting, which correlates with young children experiencing success in later relationships and throughout their lives.  

COSP engages families with this end goal in mind. What’s more, the course builds up parents’ confidence and self-worth, so that they may provide a safe place for their children to thrive, grow, and learn.  

Who is it for?  

Parents/caregivers who want to achieve the following:  

  • Increase their child’s security towards them 
  • Increase their self-confidence and abilities to understand their child’s communication methods 
  • Enhance their ability to empathize  
  • Enhance their ability to self-examine  
  • Increase their abilities to reflect, think, pause, and choose from security-enhancing responses 
  • Enhance parents’ practices of pausing, contemplating, and selecting security-enhancing actions  
  • Promote parents’ capacity to adapt to difficult situations 

Program Delivery:   

  • Small group settings 
  • 1.5 to 2 hours weekly 
  • 8-week duration. 

To make a referral or for more info: Go to http://www.necosp.org. You can use the “Find a Facilitator” to locate a class near you.  

We’re thankful to Sami’s contributions to the article and this initiative. Read the entire report here.  

Although our work is never done, we continue to exercise faith in our team of early childhood experts such as Sami, who do the good work to ensure that every child thrives.  

“We are fortunate in Nebraska to have so many entities and different disciplines that have come together to really promote and support Circle of Security Parenting. The relationships here truly make the difference!” Sami said.  

With 2021 just beginning, Nebraska Children continues to envision strategies like these brightening our future.  

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Read more about Sami’s advice for parents

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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