CATCH, Santa Barbara County Education Office


What is CATCH?

Florene Bednersh: Assistant Superintendent
About 7 years ago we started working on implementing the program CATCH. We actually had two things that started us thinking about it. One was we have our staff serving preschoolers through the entire county and we would get referrals for special education and the kids would not qualify, but they were kids that were struggling, they were kids that were at risk for getting kicked out of their preschools because they were biting or kicking, or impulsive. Our teachers would come back and say, “oh this child doesn’t qualify but they need service. The teachers need help.” And then kind of parallel to that, my director of child development services also came to me and said, “Can you get me a psychologist for my program? We just don’t know what to do with some of these kids.”

There’s a big body of research actually, that kids as young at two and three can have needs such as anxiety, attention deficit, and other kids actually can show signs of depression and some emotional needs. So we knew there was a need for something to provide service for those kids. Based on all that we knew that CATCH was a good idea and a good place to go. We were actually reinforced several years later after starting CATCH in 2005. There was a big study, The Yale Child Study came out and said actually kids in preschool were being expelled three times as often as the K-12 population.

Claudia Clement: School Psychologist
Most of the children referred to CATCH seem to be aggressive little boys. I think that’s just because those are the children that get noticed as having difficulties, and they seem to present the most challenges for the preschool teachers. We also have some aggressive little girls, but we also have children who are withdrawn. We’ve had some that the teachers are concerned that they might be depressed and what us to take a look at the kids and see what we think. And then other kids have some difficulties and the teachers don’t really know what’s going on but they wonder about Autism or some other disabilities, Hyperactivity, ADHD, those kinds of things.

Heidi Casper: Teacher
When other organizations in town say, “Well they really don’t meet the criteria that we have for placing these children and I’m sorry we can’t help you.” CATCH says, “No, no we have the services that they need to help this family”, not just the child, there have been services for the family as well, for me, the teacher, and for the children in general. It’s been a phenomenal program and I can’t say enough. I hope this continues in my classroom and here in Santa Barbara. It’s been really great.

How Has CATCH Supported Preschools?

Jennie Martinez: Director of Preschools
Before CATCH came to us, we would have children in the classroom that, for whatever reasons, were having difficulty, they were experiencing many challenges in just trying to fit in with other preschool children, teachers were very frustrated, and just very challenged. Then fortunately about six years ago we heard of a new program called CATCH. We were thrilled and immediately started referring children to this program. We got a lot of support. We got a lot of time with professionals whose experience was in dealing with children with challenging behaviors. The services that CATCH has provided for us are many. We’ve had psychologists come in and help teachers to think of new ideas, new strategies, to help children come in and have quality experiences with other preschool children. Parents feel more comfortable coming and talking to teachers, knowing that their child is being given an opportunity to experience a positive thing that will happen to them here in the preschool.

We’ve seen tremendous improvement in children’s behavior, when we have CATCH come into our program. Not just the child that is experiencing the specific behavioral challenges but the entire group. The person, whom might come in to work with a child on a weekly basis, once a week, will come and work with the entire group through the Second Step Curriculum, which is just a wonderful program.