B3. Early Childhood – Oral Paper Session

Friday, 31 March 2017
11am-12.30pm

Facilitating participation in quality early childhood programs for families from refugee backgrounds

Abstract
Children from refugee backgrounds are less likely than children from the general population to participate equitably in quality early childhood educational programs such as kindergarten. Children who do not participate are at elevated risk of not succeeding in the formal education system (Brooks-Gunn & Markman, 2005, Sims et al., 2014; Thorpe et al., 2011). They run the risk of exclusion in their teenage years, which may lead to acculturation stress (Khawaja & Milner, 2012), limited coping strategies, limited access to higher education and employment, and reduced financial opportunities (Brough, Gorman, Ramirez, & Westoby, 2003; Gorman, Brough, & Ramirez, 2003).

The purpose of this study was to discover strengths-based strategies currently used by family support workers and early childhood educators to assist families with refugee experience to overcome access and participation barriers ultimately leading to social inclusion, maintenance of cultural and linguistic identity and effective cross-cultural integration within the context of a diverse society. By drawing upon examples of partnership models, participatory frameworks and community development strategies, the study explored current access barriers, examples of promising practice, a range of practical strategies that practitioners can implement, and future steps required to facilitate equitable participation at a population level.

This qualitative study was located in three areas of South East Queensland including the Logan, South Brisbane and Toowoomba/Lockyer Valley regions. It was conducted through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 40 participants consisting of parents of young children from refugee backgrounds, family support workers and kindergarten teachers who had direct experience working with families from refugee backgrounds. Participants were sourced through seven organisations funded through the Pre-Kindergarten Grants Program 2013-2016, an initiative of the Queensland Dept. Education.

Authors
Cherie Lamb (University of New England)

The Early Years – supporting families with young children

Abstract
The importance of a child’s early years to all aspects of their future positive development has been recognised globally and in Australia. High quality, timely and sustained Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) has been associated repeatedly with benefits for children’s development, with the strongest effects for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. In Victoria there has been significant investment in evidence based programs to target families experiencing vulnerability, alongside universal services. However there continues to be significant concerns around access and levels of participation for children and families from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds.

In 2016 the Victorian Department of Education funded Foundation House to build on its previous work in the early years sector. Subsequently the Foundation House Early Years program was initiated, with the objective of improving heath, development, wellbeing and educational outcomes for children and families from refugee backgrounds by supporting Victorian early years services to work effectively for and with families of refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

By working in partnerships with local government, state government, communities and early childhood services, Foundation House has achieved significant outcomes. Place-based ‘whole of organisation’ collaborations that incorporate meaningful community engagement practices and monitor outcomes by cycles of continuous improvement have been demonstrated as an effective mechanism to support the access and levels of participation for children from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds. This presentation will describe the Foundation House Early Years Program, including the resources that have been developed and highlighting the ways this results in more positive settlement outcomes measured in evidence based processes.

Authors
Kath Cooney (VFST)

Presentation currently unavailable

Complexities, challenges and joys of early childhood work with refugee families

Abstract
This presentation addresses the complexities, challenges, and joys of working with 0-5 years and their caregivers from various refugee backgrounds. The child may be affected by direct traumatising events, perinatal stresses, disrupted attachment, the parents’ trauma, forced separation from significant others, and past deprivation. Children may be impacted by the caregivers’ ongoing stressors, feelings of guilt, and difficulties with appropriate limit setting. Clinical and research data indicate that these complexities may result in delays in many developmental areas, at a critical period of brain development.

Integrative developmental interventions aim to enhance the child’s trauma recovery and development, strengthen the parent-child relationship, enhance the parent’s knowledge, skills and confidence, and prepare the child for participation in preschool or school. Improvements are seen in the child’s development across several areas, as measured through observation and early development assessment tools.

Some parents require ongoing therapy before they can fully engage in strategies that address the child’s specific recovery goals. Cross-cultural differences in child rearing may reduce the parents’ involvement in interventions that incorporate Western evidence based approaches. Other challenges include the physical resources required for work with this age group, engagement of fathers, countertransference, and the need to support the child’s experience of separation and transitions.

The results can be very rewarding, as the child’s development progresses, and gains are made in regulation, resilience, communication, relationships, and participation in mainstream early child programmes. This can be complimented by the caregivers’ increased parenting skills and confidence.

Longitudinal studies are needed to identify the child’s changing needs at later developmental stages, and evaluate the long term effectiveness of early interventions for this client group.

Authors
Rosemary Signorelli (STARTTS)

The use of the neuromodulation techniques in treatment of preschool age children from refugee like backgrounds

Abstract
The impact of trauma and refugee experiences on preschool age children can be devastating but is often overlooked until the issues become more obvious to either parents and/or service providers.

In this paper we will explore the impact of early childhood trauma on sensorimotor integration, an area that has so far received little attention. In our experiences, refugee children frequently present with sensory-motor integration issues such as problem with auditory processing, issues with gross or fine motor skills, poor attention and focus and sensitivity to touch and sound. In addition to this, they also present with learning and developmental difficulties, hyperactivity, chronic and long term sleeping problems as well as issues with anger and irritability.

We will discuss how neurofeedback and other neuromodulation techniques can help in addressing sensorimotor integration and other developmental difficulties. We will use case vignettes to illustrate the process of assessment, treatment and the evaluation of treatment outcomes. We will also explore how neuromodulation techniques get integrated with other modalities of care when working with pre-school children and their families.The impact of trauma and refugee experiences on preschool age children can be devastating but is often overlooked until the issues become more obvious to either parents and/or service providers.

In this paper we will explore the impact of early childhood trauma on sensorimotor integration, an area that has so far received little attention. In our experiences, refugee children frequently present with sensory-motor integration issues such as problem with auditory processing, issues with gross or fine motor skills, poor attention and focus and sensitivity to touch and sound. In addition to this, they also present with learning and developmental difficulties, hyperactivity, chronic and long term sleeping problems as well as issues with anger and irritability.

We will discuss how neurofeedback and other neuromodulation techniques can help in addressing sensorimotor integration and other developmental difficulties. We will use case vignettes to illustrate the process of assessment, treatment and the evaluation of treatment outcomes. We will also explore how neuromodulation techniques get integrated with other modalities of care when working with pre-school children and their families.

Authors
Sejla Murdoch (STARTTS)