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Better Brains for Babies was formed in 1998 in order to share new research on early brain development with the people of Georgia in order to “maximize Georgia’s brain power.” Fourteen public and private Georgia organizations interested in improving child outcomes formed a collaboration team to guide the Better Brains for Babies initiative.
In the first phase of Better Brains for Babies, a core group of approximately 300 people were trained on the science of early brain development and its application to optimal child development. The training was modeled after, and used the curriculum of, the Starting Points Initiative in Florida. Each trainer made a commitment to share the brain development information with at least four other organizations in Georgia.
In 2002, Diane Bales from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and Cathy Campbell from the Georgia State University School of Nursing worked together to update the Florida training materials to reflect the latest brain development research. Active trainers attended an update and received the new materials, and about 150 additional trainers were trained. Trainers shared brain development information with parents, grandparents, child care providers, health care professionals, community leaders, and local decision-makers.
Beginning in 2004, the Better Brains for Babies leadership team undertook a major revision and expansion of our training materials. The revision updated the information on brain development to reflect recent advances in scientific understanding of brain development, and added four “application” chapters to the training manual. The application chapters (Physical Well-Being, Attachment, Play, and Consistency) help trainers connect the science of early brain development with the specific ways that adults can support children’s developing brains. The revision also improved the “look” of the presentation materials by adding interactive graphics in a Flash format. The new training materials also include a professionally-designed Trainer’s Guide with background information and key points for each slide.
The Flash presentation was debuted at a series of Better Brains for Babies Premieres during the fall of 2006. Professionals across the state were invited to a half-day session to preview the new presentation materials. Attendees at the premieres were encouraged to invite qualified people to apply to be BBB trainers.
In 2007, approximately 150 trainers attended two-day train-the-trainer workshops on the new materials. Those trainers form the core group of current BBB trainers. The group includes some people trained in the earlier cycles of training, as well as many new trainers. Additional train-the-trainer workshops are scheduled as funding becomes available.
In late 2010, the Better Brains for Babies leadership team recognized that technology and brain research have changed enough to necessitate a complete update and revision of the Trainer's Guide. The revision reflects the most recent advances in scientific understanding of brain development (as of early 2012, at least). We also divided the chapter on Consistency into two chapters: one on consistency and one on stress and trauma.The Flash presentation was also converted to slides in PowerPoint and Keynote formats, based on feedback from active trainers who found the Flash version hard to use.
All active BBB trainers attended a Trainer Update to become familiar with the new materials between April and September of 2012. Participants who attend train-the-trainer workshops beginning in April 2012 are receiving the updated materials.
In addition to the trainer materials and train-the-trainer workshops, Better Brains for Babies has developed
We are grateful to a variety of funders who have made the work of Better Brains for Babies possible.
The current work of Better Brains for Babies is supported primarily by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Office of Prevention and Family Support through the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Community Based Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CFDA 93.590).
The BBB initiative began with two years of funding from the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health. We have also received funding from the Governor's Office for Children and Families, the Georgia Child Care Council, the Office of School Readiness, Georgia Family Connection Partnership, The Georgia Children's Trust Fund Commission, and the Georgia Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant.