Merced County Office of Education

Caring Kids

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Project Manager/Behavior Support Specialist
Social Skills Trainers
  • Cari Urquiza: ​ email

Phone: (209) 381-6790 ext. 6146
Address: 1850 Wardrobe Avenue, Merced, CA 95341
Fax: (209) 381-6758

 Caring Kids Referral Form.pdf

Promoting Healthy Social and Emotional Development

The Caring Kids program provides resources and services to children ages 0 to 5 and their families to help support healthy and optimal child development. The program helps children learn self-regulation and social skills. It teaches parents and caregivers the best ways to help children develop socially and emotionally. These services help build protective factors and reduce challenging behaviors which will increase the chances of children being successful in school.

Caring Kids employs Strengthening Families strategies when working with parents and guardians. The Strengthening Families approach is a research-based, cost-effective strategy that is aimed at increasing family stability, enhancing child-development, and reducing child abuse and neglect.


  • Caring Kids aims to provide services that are comprehensive in their approach to help children develop optimally. We aim to help children directly and to help those that take care of them. We aim to help children learn appropriate social skills and to help parents and caregivers learn the best approaches to nurture positive social-emotional development.

  • By identifying and providing systematic early intervention to children with "at risk" behaviors, children will be better prepared for entering kindergarten 'ready for school' and less likely to require special education or mental health services.


  • Provide education and support to help parents develop skills to promote the healthy social and emotional development of their children through

          a) home visiting

          b) support group sessions

          c) workshops

  • Screen children for social-emotional delays using ASQ:SE

  • Conduct individualized social skills and behavioral intervention with children with social-emotional delays

Our approach is based on 5 Protective Factors that, when present in families, reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect by providing parents with what they need to parent effectively, even under stress.

5 Protective Factors

  1. Parental Resilience

  2. Social Connections

  3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  4. Concrete Support in Times of Need

  5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Training Topics

  • 10 Big Ideas to Help Our Kids Grow to be the Best They Can Be

  • Behavior management (SOS video, taking ABC data, increasing good behaviors and decreasing unwanted behaviors, etc.)

  • Everyday ways to teach social skills, manners, good behavior/How to promote healthy social/emotional development

  • How to be the children's 1st teacher (importance of vocabulary building, minimizing exposure to TV and video games, playing with the children)

  • Parent or Provider support group–using Make Parenting a Pleasure Curriculum/Abriendo Puertas

  • Potty training

  • Attachment/Bonding

  • Family Strengthening: Building Protective Factors

  • Introduction to different special needs (ex: Down's Syndrome, autism)

  • Using Household Items for Play

  • Baby Signs (how to teach baby sign language)

  • Establishing Daily Routines

  • Improving communication between parents and teachers or child care providers