CARE: An Adult SEL Program with Proof

Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) is a unique evidence-based program designed to help those working in educational settings ( e.g., PK-12, Higher Education, OST) reduce stress and enliven their work by promoting awareness, presence, compassion, reflection, and inspiration – the inner resources they need to help themselves and their students flourish, socially, emotionally, and academically. 

Being an educator is very rewarding, but it can also be a highly stressful. With the crisis of the pandemic, there has been increased awareness of the stresses faced by educators and the need to provide quality supports.

As Catherine Gewertz writes in Education Week, the CARE Program has careful scientific proof of its effectiveness for educators. CARE has been the subject of three randomized trials; two in the US (Pennsylvania & New York City; Jennings et al. 2013; 2017) and one in Croatia (Mihić et al., 2020). There is also emerging evidence of positive outcomes for leaders (Doyle Fosco et al., 2023; Mahfouz, 2018). Learn more about CARE and its findings here.

What Are the Findings?

These well-controlled studies have shown that CARE leads to improvements in teacher well-being, reductions in teacher stress, and significant improvements in classroom instruction. An extensive study of public elementary school teachers in New York City, showed that CARE not only improves the well-being and resiliency of the teachers, but also improves classroom atmosphere and the quality of instruction. Further, follow-up findings during the next school year showed that teachers who participated in CARE continued to have significant decreases in psychological distress, reductions in ache-related physical distress, continued significant increases in emotion regulation compared to teachers who wanted to participate but were randomized to a waiting-list. CARE has also been used extensively with administrators and shown positive effects including increased self-reflection and wellbeing, better relationships, and better attendance to self-care.

What Are the Key Features of CARE?

Drawing on current findings in the field of neuroscience, education and psychology, CARE offers instruction in cognitive and emotion skills that help reduce stress by promoting understanding, recognition and regulation of emotion. Educators are introduced to mindful awareness practices, beginning with short periods of silent reflection and other exercises that bring mindful awareness to the challenging situations commonly encountered. By practicing these skills, educators learn to cultivate calmness, awareness, presence, compassion, empathy and ability to listen. Learn more from the voices of teachers.

CARE is a mindfulness-based PD program designed to promote wellbeing and social-emotional competence through the use of practical mindfulness, emotional awareness and regulation, and caring and compassion skills that can be used in and outside of the workplace. CARE does not explicitly teach how to teach skills to others, but instead focuses on personal use of practices and skills with the understanding that these personal changes can have positive spill over into the educational environment. Blending direct instruction, practice and reflection, participants learn each program component, practice skills, and how to apply this learning to their educational environment. Instructional methods include short didactic presentations, small and large group discussions, written reflection activities, and engaging in mindful awareness and compassion practices.

What Do Educators Say About the CARE Program?

Educators who completed the CARE program tell us they found it relaxing, enjoyable and inspiring, and that it helped them be better teachers and leaders.

  • “ [CARE] has given me the tools and skills to be more calm and centered… [They help] create an atmosphere of confidence, trust and more joy in the classroom.” (CARE teacher)
  • “The interpersonal (listening) work was very powerful. Most professional trainings lack this type of experiential component, which is the type of learning that stays with me”. [CARE teacher]
  • “I valued the chance to apply these processes in our own lives (rather than learn yet another curricular innovation) and the emphasis on transforming ourselves as a way to transform our classrooms.”[CARE teacher]
  • “I feel the program helped me be more mindful of when I am stressed. Instead of staying stressed now I utilize a tool to help me decrease. When I feel myself getting stressed, using the practices helps me to take a mental pause away from things and regroup.” (CARE leader)
  • “I loved learning new strategies and think it will be useful to me, my students, and staff” (CARE Leader)

CARE for Educators: The Garrison Institute Retreat (August 7-10, 2024)

The Garrison Institute offers a 4-day CARE retreat each summer, providing this innovative training for educators. Retreat participants have included classroom teachers, special needs teachers, teacher educators, principals, SEL specialists, psychologists, counselors, curriculum directors and educators from non-profit organizations.

The Garrison Institute is located in Garrison, New York in a former Capuchin monastery overlooking the Hudson River. The Institute offers a place of refuge where people can withdraw from the business of their daily life. Accommodations are simple and quiet with enough space to breathe, rest and meditate. The tranquil, park-like setting, the gardens, the gazebo on a bluff by the river, and the many walking paths together create a natural setting for contemplation.

Retreat Leaders

Sebrina L. Doyle Fosco, Ph.D. is an Assistant Research Professor at Penn State Univ. She is a CARE Master Trainer and has been involved with the research of CARE for over a decade. Sebrina has multiple program-related publications.  Click here for more information on Sebrina’s work.

Velma L. Cobb, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor in School Counseling and Director of the Lander Center for Educational Research in the Touro College Graduate School of Education in New York. She is a certified Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Meta-Coach. Click here for more information on Velma’s work.

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