With approximately one third of pre-school aged children described as developmentally vulnerable, there is an increasing demand to provide evidence-based programs to assist them. One of the major ways to address these concerns has been to work directly with families. While parenting programs are successful in alleviating and preventing developmental trauma, many of the most vulnerable families never engage with such services.
To address this vital community concern, a group program was developed to assist Victorian Pre School Field officers (PSFOs) who have high levels of contact with families of vulnerable pre-school aged children. The six-session psychotherapeutic and supervision intervention program focused on enhancing understanding of the psychodynamic and psychological issues involved in developmental vulnerability as well as increasing insight, self-reflection, and empathy.
The research was conducted as a semi controlled trial in which an intervention condition of seven PSFOs was compared to a matched wait-list condition of seven PSFOs. The participants were tested pre and post intervention on several outcomes related to “efficacy in developmental vulnerability”. The intervention PSFOs significantly improved in their ability to understand developmental vulnerability, to engage effectively with vulnerable families, and to build their capacity. By contrast, the wait-list group reported no change on these factors. Such a finding suggests an alternative intervention in enhancing service provision and improving the outcomes of vulnerable and “hard-to-reach” families and children.
Research Papers and Presentations
Juhaz, A. & Pearson, E. (2014). Parental capacity to assist their developmentally vulnerable children: The role of kindergarten teachers (Unpublished master’s thesis). The Cairnmillar Institute School of Psychology Counselling and Psychotherapy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Pazarella, Z. & Pearson, E. (2014). Enhancing understanding and engagement with vulnerable children and families: The effect of a six-session psychotherapeutic intervention for Pre School Field Officers (Unpublished master’s thesis). The Cairnmillar Institute School of Psychology Counselling and Psychotherapy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Pearson, E. (2012). Using the public health model to protect children: Harnessing the capability of second tier professionals. Poster Presentation Child Aware Conference 2013.
Pearson, E. (2013). Investigating the capacity of early childhood professionals to enhance outcomes for vulnerable children. Submitted for Publication with Child Abuse Review.
Pearson, E. (2013). The personal and professional benefits of a KFOG intervention for pre school field officers: An intervention study. Report for The Cairnmillar Institute Council.
Pearson, E. (2013). Building early childhood professional’s efficacy in developmental vulnerability: The effect of a six-session psycho-education and supervision intervention for Pre School Field Officers. Resource Presentation Child Aware Conference, 2014.
Pearson, E. & Gordon, R. (2013). Psychotherapy training and support for early childhood education professionals: A pilot study. Paper submitted for presentation APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists Conference, 2014.
Swadling, M. & Pearson E. (2014). Helping helpers to manage childhood trauma: The effect of a six-session psychotherapeutic intervention for Pre School Field Officers (Unpublished master’s thesis). The Cairnmillar Institute School of Psychology Counselling and Psychotherapy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Supporters and Donations
The Big Tent Project is made possible by many individual benefactors and supporters. We wish to acknowledge The Windermere Foundation for their support for the development of this program and The Research Branch of The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for providing ethics approval for the implementation of research into the project. If you would like to make a contribution to this important research project, click here to download our donation form.