Thanks to a long-running partnership between Gonzaga Law Assistant Professor Gail Hammer and Circle of Security International, 85 teachers, Head Start teachers, social workers, clinical psychologists, and counselors from various parts of the United States received training in the Circle of Security early intervention program for parents this summer at Gonzaga Law. Because of the collaboration, twelve Head Start teachers received the training free of charge. Circle of Security, which is based in Spokane, regularly offers training in countries such as Denmark, Norway, England, Australia, Japan, Canada, Sweden, and Tasmania.
Making Connections for Children and the Community
One of the founders of Circle of Security, Bert Powell, presents in Hammer’s Ethical Issues in Representing Children class at Gonzaga Law. The May training conducted by Glen Cooper and Kent Hoffman, the other two founders, connected attendees to the internationally-recognized system for helping connect parents with better parenting practices. The 4-day intensive workshop gave the attendees a solid base in the Circle of Security methods and training to pass along to parents they work with.
Circle of Security training is a promising evidence-based system built on the theory of attachment parenting, originally proposed by Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby, M.D. The training emphasizes developmental neuroscience, attachment theory, and common sense in helping parents understand the needs and behaviors of children.
“The system gets at the pattern that underlies all human relationships, and is just extraordinary,” explains Hammer.
Addressing Children’s Judicial Needs
Hammer first started working with Circle of Security as a part of the Same Page and Same Page Two projects in the early 2000s. These projects, funded by the Paul Allen Foundation, focused on improving parenting evaluations provided to courts and improving judicial officers’ and other legal professionals’ understanding of childhood development and attachment.
The goal was to provide evidence-based information to judicial officers to help improve the quality of decisions involving children. The program was designed to improve local parenting evaluation practices and encourage the courts to set higher standards for expert testimony about parent-child attachment.
Hammer also worked with Circle of Security on the Infant Team, a team of psychologists, social workers, and counselors who provided coordinated evaluations and recommendations for families involved in Child Protective Services cases.
“Circle of Security takes well-developed attachment parenting theory and applies it to help parents be better parents, with kindness instead of shaming” said Hammer. “That seems to be a much more effective approach.”