Online support program for family day care goes national
Everymind has launched its free professional development program for family day care educators, managers and coordinators nationally, with the support of Family Day Care Australia.
Supporting the mental health of children is the first-of-it's-kind online program specifically tailored to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in family day care services, and is now freely accessible on the Family Day Care Australia website.
“It is fantastic to have Everymind, one of Australia’s leading mental health institutes, invested in the development of an evidence-based and tailored program that will support the best possible mental health outcomes for children in family day care, and we’re very excited to be launching it through the Family Day Care Australia website,” Family Day Care Australia CEO, Andrew Paterson said.
Co-designed by mental health and early childhood education experts, the program has received positive feedback throughout its extensive trials, with one educator saying, “it should be a compulsory part of training for all educators.”
Historically, there has been a lack of professional development resources to assist early childhood educators in mental health, and even fewer tailored for family day care.
“This flexible online program fills this gap and, importantly, can be completed at the participant’s own pace, when and where it suits them,” explains Everymind Program Manager, Dr Sally Fitzpatrick. “For rural and remote educators, particularly, that saves travel costs and time.”
Supporting the mental health of children was informed by a Project Reference Group from the family day care and early childhood sector, testing in 2019 and a randomised control trial from March to September 2021.
The online program equips family day care educators with the skills to maintain key partnerships with families and other professionals, create positive environments, support children’s social and emotional wellbeing, and develop early intervention strategies to support people experiencing mental ill-health.
“By supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children in their care, family day care educators can help build a strong foundation for the development of the skills, values and behaviours they need for positive physical and mental health as adults.”
Practical resources including fact sheets and planning tools make it easy for educators, managers and coordinators to apply what they learn to their day-to-day work.
Videos and podcasts from real-life educators, coordinators and leading academics help to make the information engaging, clear and concise.
Our research findings have shown that educators’ confidence and ability to support the mental health of the children in their care increased after participating in the program, and was maintained after three months.
The program also encourages family day care educators to reflect on their own mental health and wellbeing, and there is an additional module on how to foster a positive culture in their services specifically for managers and coordinators.
As one educator said, “You need a ‘full cup’ to help with self-care, and educators often run on empty anyway. You can’t give what you don’t have yourself, at the end of the day.”
Supporting the mental health of children: An online program for family day care