Building Community: How 80x3 Transforms Family Support at Wilder Child Development Center

Jamie Bonczyk


When a child has gone through adverse child experiences (ACEs) and developed stressors and trauma, family and caregivers are often the first to notice. To help children develop healthy coping mechanisms to buffer the negative effects of trauma, it falls to those families and caregivers to create a safe, trauma-sensitive environment that cultivates resilience. Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 80x3 Resilient from the Start initiative works directly with program administrators to develop those trauma-sensitive care skills and in its first year alone has helped over 440 families in Minnesota. 

From resources, guides, and training modules to funding parent rooms and providing dedicated staff support, 80x3 empowers child care providers with invaluable resources, fostering stronger connections and a supportive community environment. These resources help develop the skills of teachers, have a direct impact on families and caregivers, and create an environment for children to develop the critical skills to rebound from ACEs.

The Wilder Child Development Center is witnessing the realization of a long-awaited dream with a helping hand from the 80x3 initiative—a dedicated parent room. This innovative space is poised to revolutionize family support in child care settings, offering a sanctuary for parents to decompress, connect, and thrive.

 “We've been a long-time partner with Greater Twin Cities United Way. Our partnership with 80x3 hit us at a really good time because we were really looking at how to support teachers in a different way,” said Angela Clair, Director of Early Childhood Services at Wilder.

Parents, the true architects of this initiative, expressed their longing for a haven within the center. The vision was clear: a room designed by parents, for parents. They envisioned a space where they could recharge before reuniting with their children, where they could share experiences and advice with peers, and where practical amenities, like access to a computer for printing documents, could ease the burden of administrative tasks.

“For a good amount of our families, social isolation is a big thing. And that's due to trusting those around you. We're a small enough center that we're pretty tight-knit. And I think when families are able to make those connections with another parent, that's someone that they can rely on and, and have as a support where they wouldn't have had that before,” said Angela.

Transforming this vision into reality required creativity, resourcefulness, and, most importantly, external support. The 80x3 funding provided the crucial catalyst needed to breathe life into the parent room project. What was once a dimly lit office space cluttered with paperwork has undergone a remarkable transformation. The room, now affectionately named "The Den," stands as a testament to the power of community collaboration and collective empowerment.

The parent room at the Wilder Child Development Center is a testament to the profound impact of trauma-sensitive care and holistic family support. By investing in resources and spaces that support parents, early childhood education programs can acknowledge the vital interplay between parental resilience and child development.  A parent who feels supported, heard, and valued is better equipped to nurture their child's growth, fostering a cycle of positivity and empowerment within the community.

By embracing trauma-informed approaches and prioritizing holistic family support, child care centers can foster stronger connections within their communities, empower caregivers with valuable skills and resources, and ultimately shape a brighter future for all children

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About the Author

Jamie Bonczyk is a Program Officer for 80×3: Resilient from the Start, an innovative region-wide initiative to increase capacity to support parenting skills and provide trauma-sensitive early child care in a safe, stable environment that supports child resiliency. Her background includes the roles of executive director of an early learning nonprofit, Head Start administrator, adjunct instructor, author, professional development content creator, and preschool teacher. Jamie has a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master’s degree from Roosevelt University, both in early childhood education. She completed a Head Start Management Fellowship at UCLA and became a Certified Professional Project Manager through the University of St Thomas.

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