Jump Start Honored as Program of the Year

The Children’s Trust honored the program that supports organizations that care for children with behavior challenges.

The Mailman Center for Child Development’s Jump Start program received The Children’s Trust’s Program of the Year award at the 18th Champions for Children Awards ceremony April 11.

This prestigious award is given to programs that excel in providing exceptional services to children and their families.

“Being honored as a Program of the Year is a remarkable achievement for the Jump Start program. It is a testament to the commitment and impact of our collaborative efforts with the University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development and community partners,” said The Children’s Trust President and CEO, James R. Haj. “The program’s dedication to enhancing early childhood development for children with challenging behaviors has profoundly impacted the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County. This recognition is a source of inspiration for all those who strive to make a difference in the world.”   

In collaboration with The Children’s Trust, Jump Start offers classroom and individual consultations to administrators and teachers. Its primary focus is to provide social-emotional support to early care and education programs catering to children with behavioral challenges who are at risk of expulsion or suspension within the Miami-Dade County public school system.

“A lot of young, preschool children are being expelled from preschools at an astonishing rate,” said Ruby Natale, Ph.D., Psy.D., Jump Start program director and professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “The goal of the program is to work with child care centers to build their capacity to work with children with challenging behaviors before it gets to the point where children are being expelled.”

Dr. Ruby Natale (right) accepts the Program of the Year award from The Children's Trust
Dr. Ruby Natale at the Champions for Children Awards ceremony.

By identifying individual needs and managing difficult behaviors, Jump Start aims to enhance children’s social and emotional development, ultimately improving their lives. They use a “consultive stance” that establishes Jump Start representatives and child care providers as equals.

“We work alongside the teachers,” Dr. Natale said, “not as experts, but really as partners.”

Their influence in Miami-Dade County is significant. Dr. Natale said in Jump Start’s 15-year-association with The Children’s Trust, the group has worked with each of the county’s 1,400 child care facilities, sharing a toolkit that provides instruction on creating a safe, positive environment for child care providers and children alike.

“Thousands of children, families and teachers have benefited from the program,” Dr. Natale said. “It’s really important to do something now, when the kids are young, to help these child care centers support the children, understanding and recognizing their unique needs.”

“Intervening at this level, at this time, can have a huge impact, long-term, for these children,” added Maite Schenker, Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the Miller School and Jump Start clinical and training director.

Tags: Dr. Ruby Natale, Mailman Center for Child Development