The information and knowledge that you gain from this course will help you develop five Action Plans (one for each week of the course) focused on responding to contemporary issues and events that impact young children. For each Action Plan, you will ask yourself a form of the following questions:

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What do I need to know to understand the situation and needs of children and families?
What ideas and advice from experts may be useful in assisting children and families?
What will I, as an early childhood professional, be able to do to help young children and their families?

Besides helping you synthesize your learning each week, each of the Action Plans you create may be useful to your future work with children and families and a resource that you can share with other early childhood professionals.
The focus of each Action Plan is as follows:

Action Plan 1: Supporting Children’s Needs Following a Disaster
Action Plan 2: Supporting Young Children Through a Family Loss
Action Plan 3: Addressing Maltreatment—The Role of Early Childhood Professionals
Action Plan 4: Supporting Families of Divorce
Action Plan 5: Advocating for Children and Families in Your Community

Action Plan 1: Supporting Children’s Needs Following a Disaster
This week, you have been learning about the ways that children are continually influenced by the world in which they live, particularly the microsystem of the family. You have also learned that microsystems are not the only source of influence on children’s development. Sometimes changes in the larger world—t he chronosystem—also impact the microsystems of family, school, and community.
As the world entered the 21st century, a number of events and tragedies have greatly affected the lives of children and families. In the United States, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and greater economic uncertainty have brought about dramatic changes. The increased presence of the mass media in everyday life brings traumatic events into nearly every home, often in real time, potentially increasing their impact on every microsystem. Supporting young children and advising families in how to meet children’s needs in the face of these challenges is often part of the work of early childhood professionals.
For your first Action Plan, you will think about the ramifications of such events by exploring the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which impacted the lives of young children in New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama through physical and emotional distress. This distress was further exacerbated by Katrina-related challenges faced by their families, such as finding housing and jobs. For some families, these challenges have continued over a period of years. Lessons learned from Katrina about how we can support young children and their families can be applied to many situations.
Action Plan Professional Scenario: Imagine you are an early childhood professional working with young children and families in the Gulf region who are still struggling with the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Before you create your Action Plan, consider:

What does an early childhood professional need to know in order to understand the situation and needs of these children and families?
What ideas and advice from experts may be useful in assisting children and families?
What can early childhood professionals do to help, either directly, by suggesting activities and advice, or by referring the family to other community resources and professionals?

The following steps will help you address the above points and, in turn, create an Action Plan that may be useful in your future work.
1. What You Need to Know: Learning About the Impact of Katrina
Review and reflect on the following four resources. The first article was written immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The other articles provide updates on the current situation for some victims of Katrina.


2. Ideas and Advice: Checking Resources
Review the following links which offer resources for helping young children, including those affected by Katrina and disasters that have occurred since. Take notes on ideas that you think would be valuable for children coping with the kinds of Katrina-related issues that you have read about.


3. Taking Action: Supporting Children and Families in Need
Consider what you have learned about the components of microsystems, in this case, children’s needs with respect to their family life and routines and their sense of security. For Action Plan 1, write:

Five bullet points covering essential information with regard to what early childhood professionals need to know in order to understand the needs of young children and their families who have been affected by a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina
Five bullet points covering useful information and/or suggestions from experts
Two problems related to the impact of Katrina with regard to disruption of children’s family life and routines and sense of security, and specific ways you, as an early childhood professional, could support the child and family that would help to address these problems
A summary of how what you have learned about the effects of Hurricane Katrina will help you and other early childhood professionals support children’s needs following this type of disaster

Assignment length: 2-3 pages.

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