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Preventing child abuse and neglect: the early childhood educator’s role.

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Presentation on theme: "Preventing child abuse and neglect: the early childhood educator’s role."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preventing child abuse and neglect: the early childhood educator’s role

2 Early childhood educators…  …have a role in strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect;  …have knowledge and skills to strengthen families in a variety of ways; and  …have access to resources and professional development opportunities.

3 How do we prevent child abuse and neglect?  Strengthening families by providing them with the skills and resources they need to understand and meet their child’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs is the best way to stop child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place.  Early childhood professionals help prevent abuse every day!

4 Six Strategies to Strengthen Families 1. Provide quality care and education through developmentally appropriate practices. 2. Develop reciprocal relationships with families. 3. Recognize situations that may place children at risk of abuse, and signs of abuse, and provide families with appropriate support. 4. Understand, and help families to understand and handle, children’s challenging behaviors. 5. Build on child and family strengths. 6. Stay informed about our professional responsibilities.

5 Strategy # 1: Provide quality care and education through developmentally appropriate practices Quality Care and Education…in Practice  Network, read, and keep up to date on early childhood practice through conferences and other professional development opportunities.  Talk and share ideas with other educators, and participate in program staff development activities that reinforce high-quality, challenging, and achievable educational practices.  Use knowledge about each child strengths and challenges when planning activities.  Place posters, images, and key resources about developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom or program as reminders for families and staff.

6 Strategy # 2: Develop reciprocal relationships with families Developing Reciprocal Relationships…in Practice  Maintain regular, ongoing contact with families through informal chats at drop-off and pick-up times, daily or weekly notes, regular parent conferences, home visits, , or phone calls.  Encourage families to talk about their culture and family traditions, their child’s strengths and challenges, their hopes and dreams for their child.  Ask families about how they think their children are developing.  Plan and invite families (including extended family members) to program activities, such as workshops, potluck dinners, field trips, or parties.  Ask families on a regular basis what kind of support they need.

7 Strategy # 3: Recognize signs of abuse, situations that may place children at risk of abuse, and provide families with appropriate support Recognizing signs, risks, and providing support…in practice  Become familiar with the signs and risks of child abuse and neglect.  Pay attention to children with sudden behavioral changes or who display aggressive behaviors, and work with their families and others to identify possible causes.  Learn more about children with disabilities, developmental delays, and special needs—and about the challenges their families may face.  Create a clothing closet with commonly needed items (hats, mittens, coats) or a food pantry with nonperishable food items and tactfully encourage the use of these resources.  Work with your program to develop and distribute a list of local resources that may be helpful to families.

8 Strategy # 4: Understand, and help families to understand and handle children’s challenging behaviors Handling challenging behaviors…in practice  Predictable and consistent routines and schedules help prevent challenging behaviors. Post schedules so children know what to expect and feel secure and comfortable.  Share periodic handouts or host workshops about young children’s development and appropriate behaviors and expectations at various ages and for individual children.  Provide a space where parents can observe their child interacting with others and learn new techniques from watching staff.  Recommend specific actions and words families can use when facing challenging behaviors, e.g., ignore tantrums if child is not hurting herself.

9 Strategy #5: Build on child and family strengths Building on strengths…in practice  Praise the things you admire in the family and child: “You’ve been having a rough time lately; I really admire the way you are coping.”  Use informative, specific words when acknowledging children’s strengths. “You used some bright colors on that picture” is better than just “good job” or “pretty picture.”  Ask parents about their child’s strengths and special interests so you can build on those if you are not already doing so.

10 Strategy #6: Understand your professional responsibilities Staying informed…in practice  Numerous resources are available at low- or no-cost from NAEYC and others committed to strengthening families. Go to for a listing of resources.  Numerous NAEYC resources define early childhood educators’ legal and ethical responsibilities regarding child protection. In addition, know your state and local child protection laws and share them with parents in a natural, nonthreatening way as part of your program’s policies.  Regularly attend professional workshops and conferences to stay up-to- date on professional responsibilities, ethics, and practices.

11 Discussion Questions for Educators 1. Before this presentation, what did child abuse prevention mean to you? What did you see as your role in preventing abuse and neglect? 2. How has the information in the presentation expanded your view? What else might you do to help prevent abuse and neglect and strengthen families? 3. National research by NAEYC revealed that early childhood educators are willing to take an even more active part in preventing child abuse and neglect; are willing to take an even more active part in preventing child abuse and neglect; feel a strong professional and personal responsibility to help prevent child abuse and neglect; feel a strong professional and personal responsibility to help prevent child abuse and neglect; see promoting healthy social and emotional development as important to preventing child abuse and neglect; and see promoting healthy social and emotional development as important to preventing child abuse and neglect; and feel unprepared and uncomfortable about discussing difficult topics with families, and want more hands-on training and resources. feel unprepared and uncomfortable about discussing difficult topics with families, and want more hands-on training and resources. Do these findings ring true with your experience as an early childhood educator, working with children and families every day?

12 Discussion Questions for Educators, cont’d 4. In small groups, discuss each of the six family strengthening strategies, thinking about the following points: To what extent do you and your program work in intentional ways to do these everyday things? Focus on your strengths and accomplishments, as well as your areas of need. To what extent do you and your program work in intentional ways to do these everyday things? Focus on your strengths and accomplishments, as well as your areas of need. Brainstorm ways in which you might do more in these areas. Brainstorm ways in which you might do more in these areas. In what areas do you need more training/resources? In what areas do you need more training/resources? How can you support each other? How can you support each other? 5. Thinking about your discussion above, make a list of concrete actions you can do individually or as a staff to strengthen families. Make a commitment to a few feasible activities to start.

13 Discussion Questions for Students 1. Before this presentation, what did child abuse prevention mean to you? What did you see as the role of early childhood educators in preventing abuse and neglect? 2. How has the information in the presentation expanded your view? 3. Were there any statements or points made that surprised you? Why? 4. How do you feel about having these important responsibilities be a part of your everyday job? 5. What did you learn that you would like to incorporate into your work as an early childhood educator? 6. What are you committed to do to improve your skills and knowledge in strengthening families to prevent child abuse and neglect? Think about concrete steps you can take in your own professional development that will help prepare you for these responsibilities.


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