Save the Children was the first organization to prioritize children’s needs in the aftermath of disasters in the United States. Our Journey of Hope program, developed in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, provides early education centers, schools and communities in the United States with structured programs to support social and emotional development.

Protecting America’s Kids

Social and Emotional Learning Programs

No child lives without risk to challenging experiences. Whether it’s stress due to chronic poverty or stressful experiences in the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster, providing children with immediate and long-term emotional support enables their recovery while fostering resilience.

Across the United States, children face a wide array of risk factors, each with the potential to disrupt healthy social, emotional, academic and physical development. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, up to 90% of children and youth experience trauma, which can affect a child’s development.

Save the Children offers several social and emotional learning programs to support kids and their healthy development. Research shows that social and emotional learning programs work. Children exposed to these kinds of programs have notable long-term academic outcomes. In addition, behavior problems, emotional distress and drug use are all significantly lower for children who participate in social and emotional learning programs, and they are more likely to have positive attitudes toward themselves, others and school.

Journey of Hope

Save the Children developed Journey of Hope in 2005, following the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina. Journey of Hope is a child-informed program that draws on children’s strengths to support their resilience. It offers an age-specific curriculum designed to help children and their caregivers understand, process and express their feelings and emotions. The program builds healthy coping skills through structured games, stories and positive behaviors in a safe, small group setting. It helps children identify emotions and understand that it’s normal to feel angry, sad or frustrated during scary or difficult situations. Here is the story of one such child. Meet Abigail.

Because Save the Children works across the United States in communities with many needs and few resources, we offer Journey of Hope in everyday settings and following natural disasters. The Journey of Hope training model is a train-the-facilitator design that provides communities the opportunity to expand their capacity to deliver high-quality, school-based social and emotional learning programs for years to come. Plus, a 2015 study by researchers at Columbia University shows that the benefits of social and emotional learning programs exceed the costs at a rate of 11 to 1.i This means, for every dollar invested in Journey of Hope facilitator training, there is a return of $11.

Shelter from the Storm

Created by experts from Save the Children and Zero to Three, Shelter from the Storm is a social and emotional learning program designed to help care providers meet the emotional needs of young children ages 0 to 3 and their families every day and in times of disaster.

Parents and caregivers play an essential role in helping shape how children perceive the world around them. Supporting and caring experiences can serve as a buffer to protect children from scary, traumatic experiences, such as natural disaster or growing up in chronic poverty.

Shelter from the Storm supports the needs of our youngest children – babies and toddlers up to age 3, whose early experiences manifest in their minds and bodies even before they have words to verbalize what is happening. To address the particular and unique needs of this young age group, Shelter from the Storm helps adults understand how stress affects young children and learn how to respond to their needs in time of crisis. It also promotes self-care for caregivers so they can better support babies and toddlers during times of distress, and provides resources and tools that help support young children and their families following a natural disaster. Save the Children’s early childhood coordinators incorporate Shelter from the Storm into bi-monthly home visits as part of our signature Early Steps to School Success program.


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