Therapists who work daily with troubled children at the Children's Center are now sharing their expertise through a consultation and training program for day-care centers in the Salt Lake Valley.

The center, a 26-year-old therapeutic preschool for troubled children, sends staff members out to day-care centers in an eight-week on-site program designed to enhance the skills of day-care providers."This program grew out of the recognition that we were getting more referrals than we could possibly handle because of our facilities' physical limitations," said Elize Lazar, director of development. "As more kids are being `raised' by day-care centers, we hope to provide training and special expertise so the care children receive is of the highest quality."

Therapists spend four hours a week at the day-care center, where they can interact with teachers and actually see and be a part of that particular day-care facility's environment and population. Discussion can then be effectively targeted to the day-care center's particular concerns.

Sandra Marsh, one of the program's designers, said most of the therapist's time is spent in the classrooms, watching to get a feel for the kids. This also enables them to pinpoint children who may need additional help.

The rest of the job involves training sessions with staff of the day-care center.

"There are so many different areas for training," Marsh said, "but we focus only on mental health: self-esteem for the children, ways to develop good behaviors, that kind of thing. And we try make sure that expectations are realistic. For instance, we'd hope that most people who work with 2-year-olds realize that sharing is not a part of their world."

Discussion topics include understanding the stages of physical and intellectual, social and emotional development; changing behavior by allowing a child to understand consequences, rather than focusing on punishment; behavioral techniques; assessing the center's environment and schedule; developing good relationships between staff and parents; and neglect or abuse and reporting it. The final session is an evaluation and look at teachers' specific concerns.

Participating day-care centers pay part of the cost of this training, which is accepted by the Department of Family Services as part of licensing requirements, and the Children's Center subsidizes the rest. For more information, call Marsh at 582-5534.