Social Emotional Specialist

Position Summary

The Social Emotional Specialist will work collaboratively with agency staff and mental health consultants to assess, plan for, and deliver quality, trauma informed, evidence based social emotional support services to assigned Head Start classrooms, teams, and/or individual children in order to meet agency goals. Works collaboratively as part of a professional team to ensure successful implementation of universal practices in Head Start classrooms.

Qualifications/Required Skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, family studies, or related field required.
  • Master’s degree in social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, or related field required and licensure or ability to obtain licensure as a mental health professional preferred.
  • Experience working with children from low income families and diverse cultures
  • Experience building positive, collaborative relationships with parents living in poverty
  • Experience working with Head Start and knowledge of Head Start Program Performance Standards is preferred
  • Successful completion of Pyramid Model 8 part training series or ability to complete within one year of hire required
  • Knowledge of early childhood development, particularly preschool children
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Knowledge of trauma, effects of trauma on adults and children, typical manifestations of trauma in children
  • Knowledge of and experience both giving and receiving reflective supervision and/or practices
  • Awareness of and ability to implement evidence based, trauma informed strategies to support children’s social emotional development
  • High degree of motivation and self-discipline to carry out responsibilities with little supervision or direction
  • Ability to make complex decisions and judgements base on expertise in the field as well as on policies and standard operating procedures
  • Ability to create new methods to solve problems and carry out the responsibilities of the position
  • Ability to work under stressful conditions such as handling conflicts and meeting deadlines
  • Have a valid Wisconsin Driver’s License, motor vehicle and adequate liability insurance as required by agency policy and state liability regulations
  • Other duties as assigned

Key Performance Factors for the Social Emotional Specialist:

Emotional Intelligence Capacities

  • Self-awareness: knows own internal states, preferences, resources, emotions
  • Self-Regulation: manages own internal states, impulses, and resources. Must demonstrate effective coping strategies, self-control, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovation
  • Reflective Capacity: ability and desire to step back and process one’s internal state and responses to others with a supportive person
  • Motivation: achievement drive, commitment to goals, personal initiative, and optimism
  • Empathy: awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns. Possess a service orientation that anticipates, recognizes, and strives to meet individuals needs.
  • Social Skills: Builds strong and goal driven bonds with staff, colleagues, children, families and supervisor rooted in strengths-based and trauma informed approaches. Ability to perspective take and resolve disagreements. Acts a leader and change agent in inspiring and guiding others.

Support Children’s Social Emotional Development

  • Support classroom teams to foster TIC awareness and strategies in the classroom, particularly increasing unconditionally positive, authentic, nurturing relationships between children and caregivers
  • Support classroom teams in ensuring the implementation of universal practices designed to promote the social emotional development of all children as outlined in the CSEFEL Pyramid Model
  • Provide reflective practice 1:1 meetings with lead teacher with goal of increasing teacher’s reflective capacity and reflective teaching practices
  • Support teaching team using multiple strategies (e.g. listening, modeling, mentoring) to proactively implement social emotional strategies, including Pyramid Model practices, with the goal of increasing social emotional development
  • Plan, design, and implement professional development opportunities for staff as they relate to social emotional development and trauma informed practices
  • Work closely with MH consultants and agency staff to support and/or lead implementation of social emotional support recommendations and behavior plans
  • In collaboration with Family Services staff, engage parents and caregivers to be active participants in supporting their child’s social emotional development and success in classroom and home settings
  • Actively support the agency’s TIC initiative by acting as a steward, model, mentor including facilitating TI support, small learning collaboratives, and/or leading other trainings

Agency Wide Performance Factors:

Communication (Oral and Written)

  • Relays information to supervisors, peers, employees, volunteers, collaborative partners, parents and community in a clear, timely, concise, accurate, thorough, and respectful manner both verbally and in written form
  • Demonstrates effective listening skills and makes productive use of the information
  • Communicates openly
  • Participates actively in meetings; makes meaningful contribution
  • Supports agency goals, initiative, mission, values and vision
  • Supports Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) Values: Safety, Trustworthiness, Choice, Collaboration; and Empowerment
  • Shares appropriate information with team members and administration

Professional Behavior/Judgment/Initiative/Confidentiality

  • Maintains a positive and professional attitude and approachable style while interacting with others. Polite, courteous, well-spoken when representing agency on and off the work site. Follows dress requirements for work
  • Anticipates potential problems and takes preventative measures before they occur and consistently applies sound problem-solving skills
  • Seeks out new assignments, suggests usable ideas, methods, techniques, and works effectively without supervision
  • Maintains confidentiality of all agency information, including information relative to children, families, and staff

Work Quality/Productivity/Results

  • Results oriented: Effectively sets goals and achieves high performance by using required levels of knowledge and skill for successful performance outcomes
  • Demonstrates productive and accurate work while meeting deadlines and assures the same of direct reports
  • Uses time management skills effectively
  • Demonstrates problem solving ability resulting in positive suggestions for improvement

Interactions with others/Teamwork

  • Sets a positive example for the team; motivates others; creates enthusiasm for team effort
  • Promotes, models and maintains respectful working relationships with supervisor, team, other staff, parents and community
  • Promotes and provides leadership toward a quality, healthy, creative, nurturing environment for children, families and staff that models dignity and respect
  • Models, promotes and exhibits a positive and cooperative attitude; sets a model for teamwork that encourages common goals
  • Listens reflectively and accepts suggestions willingly
  • Supports for success and encourages the efforts and achievement of others
  • Demonstrates shared responsibility for agency and departmental issues – jumps in and helps out as needed
  • Promotes, models and maintains an approachable manner that encourages interactions with others
  • Effectively builds the team, promoting strong working relationships
  • Focuses on the greater good of the organization
  • Collaborates effectively with others
  • Exhibits an ability to adapt to change


  • Completes Job Description duties and understands the expected results to be achieved
  • Meets commitments, gives and seeks feedback, takes responsibility for actions
  • Completes and maintains required recordkeeping on a timely basis
  • Arrives and is ready for work and appointments on time
  • Routinely checks agency e-mails, voicemail and written correspondence and responds in an appropriate and timely manner
  • Takes responsibility for professional growth, development, and continued education
  • Complies with agency policies, procedures, and other local, state, and national requirements
  • Assures safety and security practices and procedures are followed.

Organization: Reach Dane Reach Green

Job Location: Dane County, WI