The HealthyCHILD Model


The HealthyCHILD Model is a trauma-sensitive, culturally-responsive, whole-school approach that utilizes a multi-tiered system of social and emotional support to buffer the impact of trauma and chronic stress on children, caregivers and educators.

The HealthyCHILD Team is an interdisciplinary team that provides on-site education, consultation, technical assistance and support to empower educators and caregivers to create environments where all children thrive.

More specifically, the HealthyCHILD Team aims to build organizational and individual capacity to: ​

  • create safe, supportive, responsive relationships and environments​
  • promote social-emotional development and mental health​
  • prevent and respond to challenging behavior, that is often the result of trauma, mental health and racial discrimination​.

Annually, HealthyCHILD provides onsite education, consultation, technical assistance and/or direct service for over 150 preschool classrooms, 300 early education professionals (e.g. teachers, education assistants, education coaches, early interventionists) and 3000 children/families within Allegheny County.

Student Training Programs - We offer a variety of training opportunities for higher education students interested in infant and early childhood psychoogy and education. Please fill out our online student application. Reach out to Dr. Larson directly at to learn more.

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What's Going on with HealthyCHILD?

The Comforting Capacity of Books- Helping Young Children Cope with Trauma

by HealthyCHILD Director, Dr. Tracy Larson and PRIDE Director, Dr. Aisha White

Stop by the Office of Child Development’s HealthyCHILD (HC) office any day of the week during the school year and you will likely find empty space. If your visit is in the spring or fall, you’ll also find the P.R.I.D.E. (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education) team out and about, offering learning sessions for parents. Both of these teams travel all over the city of Pittsburgh to provide their programming. HealthyCHILD helps early educators and families build their capacity to promote children’s social-emotional wellness. P.R.I.D.E. helps parents build the knowledge and skills they need to help their children develop positive attitudes about their skin color, history, and people.

Although providing guidance to adults about how to help children cope with trauma and feel valued, acknowledged and accepted is nothing new for HC and Parent Village staff, responding after the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue has been difficult. Understandably, like most of you, we are experiencing heavy emotions after hearing about the senseless loss of so many lives. In an effort to help, we have been working closely with Pittsburgh teachers, children, and families to process emotions, identify coping strategies and provide guidance on how adults can help young children. As a parent/guardian or teacher, you may be wondering, “what can I do to help?”.

Families and teachers play an important part in helping to reestablish a sense of normalcy and security for children after an act of violence occurs. Even though most teachers and parents/guardians do not have skills to provide therapy, teachers and parents can create a space where children feel safe and secure. One way they can do that is by using books to help children learn about and understand frightening experiences and cope with their own feelings of anxiety or fear. Storytelling and reading have long been recognized for their therapeutic potential.

P.R.I.D.E.’s Parent Village program regularly provides books for African American parents that help their children feel good about all aspects of themselves. HealthyCHILD regularly provides and utilizes books to build children’s social-emotional skills and help start conversations around tough topics and during scary times. We do this because we understand the ways books can support children’s positive identity and social-emotional development. Below is a list of books parents and teachers may want to consider reading to help young children cope with trauma, anxiety, and loss.

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HealthyCHILD Program Bridges Resource Gap For Schools, Families at Home