May 30, 2017Pickens County Head Start, in collaboration with The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership, implemented a program during 2016-2017 school year to promote child and family well-being. The program, Power PATH, provides classroom and parent programs to promote social and emotional well-being in Head Start preschoolers and their caregivers. Preschool teachers in six classrooms at Pickens County Head Start were trained to implement the Preschool PATHS Social Emotional Learning Program. The program provides a framework and weekly lesson plans designed to teach children such life skills as emotional and behavioral self-regulation, friendship and social skills, and how to solve problems with others in a calm, caring way. Head Start staff members were also trained to implement a corresponding parent program that teaches parents how to encourage children’s use of these skills at home. By the end of the current school year, Pickens County Head Start teachers and staff will have the resources and training needed to continue to implement the Power PATH classroom and parent programs long-term. The program is being evaluated to assess its impact on children, families and Head Start personnel. The project is one of a number of pilot grants funded by the UA-Pickens County Partnership. As part of the project, Cynthia Simpson, executive director of Pickens County Community Action Committee and Community Development Corporation Inc. is partnering with UA faculty: Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, an associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine with UA’s College of Community Health Sciences; Dr. Ansley Gilpin, an associate professor of Psychology; and Dr. Jason DeCaro, an associate Professor of Anthropology. The UA-Pickens County Partnership works to place UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, nutrition, psychology and health education – and potentially other fields – in Pickens County for internships and experiences. Through the partnership, the rural, underserved county is provided with additional health resources, and UA students receive real world training in their respective areas of study.