UOW Early Start releases new resources to support children affected by bushfires
Although the presence of COVID-19 in Australia and around the world is occupying much attention, there are educators, children and families who are still recovering from an unprecedented summer of bushfires and the devastation they caused.
As a means of supporting them during this challenging time, Early Start at the University of Wollongong (UOW) has developed an online guide which will guide early childhood educators as they care for affected children.
Bushfire Response: Restoring a Sense of Safety and Security, launched on Monday, was funded by the NSW Department of Education and compiled by early childhood experts from Early Start working with staff from Coolah Preschool in central western New South Wales.
Bushfire Response can be accessed online by early childhood services in the regional and rural areas of the State that were disproportionately affected by the bushfires. Providing educators with an understanding of how natural disasters affect children’s behaviour and development, the resource will assist them to respond in ways that are both evidence-informed and effective.
Director of the Early Years Program in UOW’s School of Education, Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, said early childhood services had an important role to play in supporting children and families, and helping to restore a feeling of safety and security so that children could learn and prosper.
“For many children, their early childhood service will be the only sense of normalcy they have in their life, so it’s about going back to a normal routine,” Professor Neilsen-Hewett said.
“We find children take great comfort from the familiar, so it’s making sure that they have an understanding of their expectations and providing them with activities that are supportive and reassuring.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Early childhood teacher and Early Start Community Engagement Coordinator Kim Stouse-Lee who noted that early childhood education and care services were well positioned to support families after a natural disaster.
Being a place of security, where families have a high degree of trust in the educators supports sharing of information, which educators can then use to get a sense of the support needed to help children and families to recover from such a challenging time.
The resources in Bushfire Response, including evidence-informed advice, videos and links, are grouped into five categories:
- Understanding the impact
- Understanding your community
- Supporting the children
- Our team
- Additional resources.
To access the resource in full, please see here.