Professional Resource

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Respect, Reflect, Relate: Guiding Principles to Enhance Relationships

May 31, 2022

Lisa Matter and Eva Jankovsky, Colorado Office of Early Childhood; Laurene Phillips, Boulder, Colorado; and Sandra Petersen, Conifer, Colorado


Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler Care is a professional development initiative that is relationship-based on every level. It is administrated by the Colorado Office of Early Childhood. Instructors get intensive training and become members of the Infant Toddler Specialist network. Every level of the EQ Initiative uses an open framework called Respect (observe what others do and say), Reflect (on the intentions and needs of others and your own internal reactions), and Relate (determine and act on your most helpful response). It works wonderfully as an approach to relationships and interactions with infants and toddlers! It has become our framework—our way of being.

“Transformational!” “I see babies as competent, curious learners.” “I know I’m a professional.” “EQIT has changed the way I am with other people.” “I see myself as a learner.” “I see all of the relationships in my life differently.” “EQIT has given me confidence, knowing I am using best practices as I care for young children.

Transformation is a lot to ask from a training for infant and toddler care teachers. Still, with more than 19,000 teachers trained in the Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler Care (EQIT) course over 23 years, transformational is the word most often used by participants and infant toddler specialists. The EQIT 48-hour training course is a component of The EQ Initiative which works to increase the quality and availability of responsive care for infants and toddlers throughout Colorado. The EQ Initiative began as a collaboration between the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Child Care and the Colorado Department of Education in 1999, the first year of the infant–toddler set-aside in the Child Care Development Block Grant. It was administered and nurtured by the Colorado Department of Education until the Colorado Department of Human Services created an Office of Early Childhood and the EQ Initiative found a new home. In addition to the EQIT course, the initiative has a coaching component, supports Touchpoints® training, implements LENA® (Language ENvironment Analysis) Grow in some communities, and other infant–toddler specific training and coaching.

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