Early Signals, First Responses – learning package for ECEC about family violence
As more and more families engage in isolation, either in an attempt to flatten the curve of COVID 19 infection, or as a result of Health Department mandates and border closures, a worrying trend is emerging. All around Australia, those services who support women, children and families experiencing domestic violence have reported a dramatic increase in demand for their services.
While families are remaining in their homes to prevent the spread of COVID 19, experts are describing a “social tsunami” which has arisen from the isolation measures, coupled with widespread job losses, straining relationships already driven by violence and coercive behaviour.
Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, one in four children in New South Wales alone was exposed to domestic and family violence. Many believe this figure is set to skyrocket in coming months, with early figures supporting this position.
In response, Early Childhood Australia has developed Early Signals, First Responses, a learning program funded by the NSW Domestic Violence Innovation Fund, that supports those working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) to better recognise and respond to young children who have been exposed to, or who have experienced, domestic and family violence.
It is estimated that 50 per cent of families who are affected by domestic violence have children in their immediate care, meaning it is highly likely that someone working in ECEC will work with a child who is experiencing family violence.
The program, which has been developed by experts in the field of domestic violence and trauma in children, combines face to face sessions and online learning techniques including webinars; expert coaching and networking opportunities.
Through participation in the program, early childhood educators will gain the knowledge and skills needed to support young children and make appropriate referrals to specialised support agencies in a way which is both professional and safe.
ECA hopes that by participating in the program, ECEC educators will be able to take the first step in breaking the long term trajectory that early exposure to abuse can create over the course of a child’s life.
To learn more about the program, or to register, please see here.