Intrafamilial violence: Supporting early childhood educators to promote children's wellbeing.

Year: 2021

Author: Dorney, Jodi

Type of paper: Poster

Intrafamilial violence has received increased attention from researchers, media, politicians, and policy makers during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Worryingly, instances of intrafamilial violence appear to have risen due to the various pandemic-related stressors and pressures with attendant adverse effects on child and family wellbeing. The potential impact of intrafamilial violence on a child’s development and wellbeing can be severe and lasting however, research suggests that early childhood educators with the knowledge and skills to effectively identify and respond to children who have experienced intrafamilial violence are well placed to provide the additional socio-emotional and cognitive support needed with compassion and empathy. This project is driven by research identifying the negative effects of intrafamilial violence across children’s development domains and research suggesting early childhood educators do not usually have the knowledge and skills to support and respond to children impacted by intrafamilial violence. Literature suggests that educators who understand the negative impacts of intrafamilial violence on children’s behaviour and development can positively support a child’s learning journey. However, preliminary research within this study identified limited if any education on intrafamilial violence and its impact on children within initial teacher education and other professional learning for early childhood educators in Victoria. The aim of this research is to explore early childhood educators’ knowledge regarding the impact of intrafamilial violence on a developing child and to develop a professional teaching resource prototype that supports educators to effectively identify, respond to, and support children impacted by intrafamilial violence. This qualitative study will explore early childhood educators’ (a) understanding of intrafamilial violence and its potential impact on the developing child and (b) use these insights, together with input from key stakeholders in early education and Domestic and Family Violence areas to design a teaching resource to assist early childhood educators identify, respond to, and support children who have experienced intrafamilial violence. It is proposed this teaching resource will be trialed and evaluated in regional Victorian early childhood settings to ensure its content and delivery can support the wellbeing of children experiencing intrafamilial violence. The proposed research aims to support early childhood educators to work more empathetically and effectively with children who experience family violence and abuse. It is anticipated that the teaching resource may become a professional development tool for early childhood educators and a useful resource to complement relevant areas of higher education and VET early childhood education and care curricula.