Support System for

Children and Families

Building Capacity of Caregivers

HEA builds the capacity of adults who interact with children and youth. Through our Networks and Initiatives, we are working to ensure the meaningful adults in the lives of children and youth have the skills to create environments that nurture children’s development and minimize distress.

With this strong foundation, young people and adults are ready to become lifelong learners and contributing members of the community.

HEA News: Children and Families

Transformed – Collaboration is our most important work

School counselors from every public school in Elkhart County, representing all seven school corporations, pose for a group picture after a Comprehensive Counseling Collaborative of Elkhart County work session in July 2019. The CCCEC is a product of a collaborative...

Transformed – Investing together in education and training

By Brian WiebePresident/CEO of HEA This is the start of a new blog/vlog series entitled “Transformed,” where I’ll share my thoughts about Elkhart County’s journey toward becoming a "world-class place to live, learn, work and play," which is HEA's official vision...

HEA Approach to Children and Families

HEA assists community partners in developing Networks and Initiatives to achieve our county’s vision for adults who interact with children.

System for Child and Family Support


  • Mentoring Network
  • Lilly Comprehensive Counseling Coalition
System for Child and Family Support


  • Triple P Positive Parenting Program
  • ECoSistema Music Initiative
  • EL Education

The Challenge

Children’s healthy social, emotional, physical, and mental development is dependent on the environment in which they are raised.

The impact of exposure to toxic stress on children is well-documented. Individuals live with ongoing challenges after experiencing toxic stress in childhood, impacting their physical and mental health and overall well-being.

Reducing exposure to toxic stress in our children’s lives is the best long-term solution, but the right systems of support can also help children and families remediate and reduce short-and long-term negative impacts.

Ultimately, ensuring all children have multiple positive relationships with caring adults is the most effective solution, requiring families, schools, and communities to come together to build webs of support around every child.

The Solution

The goal is to develop a system of support in children’s homes, schools, and communities. Together, we can create conditions necessary for children to thrive and build a foundation for lifelong success.

HEA selected evidence-based practices that align up-to-date research with improved outcomes for children and families.

“We have the tools to help our families and schools to be more nurturing. Rather than addressing each psychological, behavioral, or health problem as though it is unrelated to every other problem, we need to get all the organizations working on human well-being to band together to help make all of our families and schools more nurturing.”
– Anthony Biglan Ph.D.; “The Nurture Effect: How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives and Our World.”

Indicators of Success

We believe parents’ voices matter and we want all parents to have the support they need to be successful.

In 2016, HEA conducted our first community-wide parenting survey to better understand the experiences of parents in our community and identify ways to respond to their needs. We plan to conduct this survey every few years to check the pulse of parents in our community and identify whether we are making a difference.

In addition, the Gallup Student Engagement Poll helps us understand how children experience their schools and communities, with questions about mentoring and extracurricular activities that help us understand how supported and engaged our students are outside of their family and school environments.

Community Priorities for Foundations for Learning

  1. Each child is ready for success in kindergarten by age 5.
  2. Each child has a parent or caregiver engaged in their learning journey.
  3. All children have the skills needed for success in high school (and beyond) by the end of 8th grade.

Research Tools for Foundations for Learning

Kindergarten Readiness

HEA has developed a county assessment tool to understand children’s social-emotional and physical development skills at kindergarten entry. Local kindergarten teachers helped develop this tool by identifying skills that are most important for school success. HEA combines data from this assessment with the school existing assessments to inform early childhood efforts.

Student Engagement

Elkhart County is working toward a countywide implementation of the Gallup Poll for 5th, 8th, and 11th-grade students. The goal is to understand students’ attitude about school and their sense of belonging. Both factors have a known effect on achievement.

Student Achievement

HEA tracks 3rd-grade reading and 5th-grade math and English language arts assessments. These tools point to areas of need and provide important indicators of future success, including high school graduation and post-secondary success.