CARING at Columbia

CARING at Columbia delivers culturally sensitive creative arts programs to children, adolescents, and families affected by significant social stress, with the goals of:
  • supporting healthy psychological development;
  • growing emotional, coping, and social skills; and
  • preventing physical and psychological problems.

CARING offers prevention through visual arts, music, and drama programs. Each program begins by bolstering each child’s sense of self—assisting them in recognizing their inherent strengths, enhancing self-esteem, and empowering their leadership skills. Children are provided skills in emotional competency to verbalize their feelings and needs with their peers, as well as their direct caretakers.They are encouraged to understand that asking for help is a sign of strength and is okay. Working together in small groups, children also learn social skills, peer-mediated problem-solving, community pride, and positive social values.

Head Start Parent/Child Programs

(3- to 5-year-olds and parents)

Developed and piloted within the Columbia University Head Start, this program was manualized in 2011 and then replicated at the Bloomingdale Family Program, one of the first Head Start sites. We recently completed research that makes CARING at Columbia a current research entity as well as a service entity. This is the only program in which the psycho-educational skills are taught directly to parents. The approach is based in the power of creative, expressive play as a way to enhance the parent-child bond. This program’s participants are parents and their children aged 3­ to 5. The family member who participates is invited to share skills with other family members at home to solidify teaching for the best outcomes for the whole family. This manual is based on psycho-educational skills adapted from parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) into the basic play skills of describe, praise, reflect, and relate. These skills reflect similar teachings that are offered in our other programs, such as increasing self-esteem, emotional competency, and problem-solving within a dyadic model.

Elementary-School-Based Programs

(9- to 12-year-olds)

This was our first manualized program, developed in 1988, and continues to be offered in schools throughout New York City. The program is offered to 3rd through 6th graders, who are apt to express themselves nonverbally through art and then begin to increase their verbal aptitude. The lessons encourage engaging the children in conversations about the skills and deepen their learning through art activities.  As well as art activities, children are taught through warm-up games, peer interaction, role playing, story-telling, dramatic play, and sing-alongs. The primary identification and solution method worked within this age group is called “We Can Do,” a method adapted for group work from E. F. Dubow’s I Can Do individual problem solving model. It’s an acronym that defines simple problem-solving steps and encourages individual approaches as well as group approaches to problem-solving. It helps children understand how to differentiate small problems from large problems. One of the outcomes is to empower children to know they can make a difference and to know which problems to ask for help with.

Adolescents' Programs

(12- to 19-year-olds)

CARING at Columbia provides afterschool expressive arts groups imparting skill building through a combination of creative art modalities such as dramatic exercises, movement, music, and visual art.