Article and photos by Urban Alliance staff.

In 2016 and 2017, Urban Alliance offered Circle of Security Parenting grant funding to churches and ministry organizations involved in the Thrive initiative, allowing them the opportunity to expand their current program offerings with a new Pregnancy or Parenting Education group or program.

Thrive is an Urban Alliance initiative to help churches and ministry organizations reach and serve young children and their caregivers throughout critical developmental stages so they experience nurturing relationships and develop strong foundations for learning.

Five network participants, Building Healthy FamiliesMustard Seed Outreach Center, New Dimension Christian Center, Our Savior Lutheran Church and St. Agnes Home applied and received the Circle of Security Parenting grant in either 2016 or 2017.

The grant opportunity had two parts. To start, Urban Alliance provided tuition (a $1,000.00 value per person) for up to two people from each organization to attend a 4-day Circle of Security Parenting training. The curriculum is designed for professionals working with children and families, facilitators of parenting groups, social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors or clergy, and uses and eight-chapter DVD to educate parents and caregivers. Practical examples of parent/child interactions and healthy options in care giving are shared along with decades of research in easy to follow step-by-step processes. To learn more visit

Following the trainings, UA grant funds of up to $500.00 were also available to the organizations to offset the cost of facilitating a future Circle of Security Parenting group, based on the knowledge gained from the trainings and for the materials that would be used in their work with families. By attending the 4-day training, the representatives were credentialed to facilitate the COS curriculum in their programs.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Michelle Catania, attended the training as a representative of Our Savior Lutheran Church along with the Preschool’s Director, Heidi Leitzke. They both expressed that they learned many new things and that the training was a “great framework for looking through children’s needs and to see how important the connection between a child and caregiver is”.

The opportunity to share what they learned at the training came at the Preschool’s Fall kick-off meeting. The rest of the staff were led through the Circle of Security Parenting curriculum and had the chance to explore how it could be helpful to the children they work with and most importantly, how each staff member could see the circle in their own lives.

“I think that helping them to see the circle in a way that fulfills the child’s needs, which in turn supports their internal needs impacted the staff,” said Catania. “Also helping them to see the circle being played out in front of them so they can support their child in a way that secures attachment and                                                                                                        fosters their development is key.”

In the months since the training, Our Savior Lutheran Church’s Preschool has been actively using the strategies they learned. Prior to the school year starting, one staff member looking ahead to her list of incoming students was having trouble with the idea of trying to connect with one difficult child, who was known for being very attention seeking, whiny and “all around tough”. Armed with her new Circle of Security skills, the teacher felt better prepared for the anticipated “difficult” first week of school. Being able to see where the child was on the circle and to react accordingly made a huge difference in the student’s behavior. By simply holding the child for a minute or two when she was dropped off in the morning and helping to organize the feelings of transition, “the teacher was able to see beyond the behaviors to see the true need of the child. Shortly after those needs were met, the undesirable behaviors stopped,” shared Catania and Leitzke.

Interested in learning more about Thrive? Please contact UA’s Director of Implementation, Children and Youth Initiatives Rosaicela Rodriguez at or 860.986.6052.

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