Minds Together for family day care educators

This project seeks to build the capacity and confidence of Family Day Care (FDC) educators to promote positive mental health and wellbeing for children in their care, helping to prevent the development of depression and/or anxiety.

Children who are supported in their wellbeing in early childhood have a strong foundation for developing the skills, values and behaviours they need for positive physical and mental health as adults.

To support children’s mental health and wellbeing, FDC educators need particular knowledge, skills and practices. These relate to maintaining key partnerships with families and other professionals, engaging in professional practice related to mental health, creating positive environments, supporting children’s social and emotional development, and providing early intervention for mental ill-health.

Family day care educators play an important role in the lives of children who attend their service, and educators must be supported to foster positive mental health and wellbeing.

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National trial underway for Minds Together, a new online program for family day care educators

Informed by Australian family day care educators and early childhood education experts, Minds Together outlines the knowledge, skills and practices family day care educators need to support children’s wellbeing and provide early intervention when needed. The program also encourages educators to reflect on their own mental health and wellbeing.

Everymind has recruited family day care educators across Australia to trial a new eight-week online education program, Minds Together, which aims to enhance capacity and confidence around promoting children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Developed specifically for Australian family day care educators, the program will help develop the knowledge, skills and practices needed to support wellbeing in children, and the flexible online format allows educators to complete the modules when it is convenient for them.

Everymind Acting Program Manager, Dr Sally Fitzpatrick, said Minds Together is the first of its kind for family day care educators.

“Children who are supported in their mental health and wellbeing in early childhood are more likely to experience positive physical and mental health as an adult, and family day care educators are uniquely placed to provide this support for children in their care,” said Dr Fitzpatrick.

“The program aims to deliver professional development approaches that build educator confidence, while also encouraging educators to reflect on and look after their own mental health and wellbeing.”

The program's six modules explore areas of early childhood education practice that are critical to achieving positive mental health outcomes for children, which were identified through research and expert opinion.

Each module includes information, practical tips, case studies and reflective questions, and each takes up to an hour to complete.

Minds Together was created with family day care educators, who were involved through a survey and focus groups to identify their needs and interests around children’s mental health and wellbeing. Initial program testing was also done by educators, with the current online modules reflecting their input.

The program includes videos and podcasts with currently practicing family day care educators who share their own experiences and learnings from their work with children, as well as family day care coordinators and mental health experts.

“It is always helpful to hear from others who are in the same profession and who share experiences similar to our own,” said Dr Fitzpatrick.

“We wanted the Minds Together program to be authentic and reflect the real experiences of family day care educators.”

The trial is due to finish in September 2020. If you have questions about the trial or would like more information, please contact the project team by email at [email protected] or call 02 4924 6900 and ask to speak to the Minds Together team.

If you are interested in receiving updates on the outcomes of the trial, or updates on future projects on mental health in early childhood, please sign-up to our mailing list.

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