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Need and Demand for SEL@Home: Social Emotional Learning at Home Program Greater Than Ever Before

What is SEL@Home: Social Emotional Learning at Home?

SEL@Home is an ongoing initiative that helps parents and caregivers to use social emotional learning (SEL) to create positive home environments and support children’s healthy social and emotional development. SEL@Home uses a two-generation approach, engaging children’s first and most important teachers – their parents/caregivers. Focusing on SEL during this time of crisis is helping children and parents regain a sense of calm, improve parent-child relationships, and increase safety and stability in the home.

Since 2016, Bright Promises Foundation has been helping parents and caregivers use social emotional learning to create safe, positive home environments. Through SEL@Home, Bright Promises provides our partners with the resources, framework, and ongoing capacity-building support they need to help them use their own expertise and experiences to improve and expand SEL programs that create the greatest positive outcomes for the families and communities they serve.

This year, SEL@Home programs are serving over 1,900 low-income families, targeting many populations who have limited or no access to SEL programs including immigrant families, refugees, teen parents, court-involved youth, and families experiencing homelessness. While broadly focused on supporting SEL, each program is culturally responsive and targeted to meet the needs and address the challenges faced by the community being served.

“The SEL@Home program is effectively deepening our capacity to improve children’s outcomes, while enabling parents to strengthen their parenting skills and relationships with their children, as well as providing them with a peer network that can provide friendship and support far beyond the scope of the program.” – Illinois Action for Children

How SEL@Home is Helping Families During and Beyond COVID-19

Now more than ever, the innovative SEL programs and practices that Bright Promises has helped to improve and expand are essential to supporting children and families who are currently facing significantly increased stress and instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 100% of our surveyed SEL@Home partners reported a significant increase in food/housing instability among the families they serve and two-thirds reported an increase in depression and anxiety among the children they serve.

Modeling and promoting strong social emotional learning at home can help to mitigate the negative impacts of these stressors while promoting positive coping skills. Focusing on social emotional learning during this time of crisis is helping children and parents regain an improved sense of calm, improve parent-child relationships, and increase safety and stability in the home. Beyond providing emotional support, SEL@Home programs are also providing parents tools for creating at-home learning environments rooted in SEL and resources to help parents continue their children's healthy social and emotional development outside of school. 

In response to COVID-19, Bright Promises has worked with our partners to make changes to how SEL@Home programs are delivered. This has included adapting SEL programs to reach families virtually, creating on-line tools/programming rooted in SEL to address the stresses of COVID-19 and social isolation, and providing  additional services to help parents alleviate their children's fears and maintain positive home environments during the ongoing crisis.

“SEL is critical for refugee parents, themselves survivors of trauma, who could become overwhelmed parenting while having to also find new jobs, worry about finances, or go to work afraid of contracting COVID-19. Similarly, for refugee youth, SEL is important because they have been isolated from their peers, taken out of their routines, and in some cases are concerned whether their parents can still pay rent or even contract the disease. SEL@Home is helping these youth reconcile their emotions and reconnect productively with peers.” -RefugeeOne

What's Next for SEL@Home

In 2021, Bright Promises is launching the SEL@Home Collaborative Action Project, a formal collaboration between Bright Promises and its current and past SEL@Home partner grantee organizations that have been actively working to implement or improve intentional Social Emotional Learning opportunities for parents/caregivers. 

Through this collaboration, Bright Promises is providing funding and capacity-building support to SEL@Home program partners to work together to plan and implement a strategy to expand the use of SEL@Home best practices to more child-serving sites so that more parents/caregivers have access to high-quality SEL programs, and so that more children can benefit from living in positive home environments where parents and caregivers model positive relationships, coping mechanisms and other life skills.

Over the next two years, Bright Promises program partners will work together to create an SEL hub where organizations can access an array of resources including curricula, training tools, workshops, and technical assistance for the successful implementation of SEL programs and connect to a referral network of agencies with demonstrated expertise in developing and delivering SEL programs, and where families can receive multiple kinds of support including tools for using SEL during at-home learning, SEL resources for addressing behavioral issues, and access to a network of agencies that offer SEL programs for children and parents.