Early childhood education and care services, in collaboration with families, are uniquely placed to comprehensively support children's mental health and wellbeing.
Between 2009 and 2011 KidsMatter Early Childhood was piloted with over 5000 children in over 100 early childhood education and care services across Australia.
The 2012 Flinders University evaluation of this trial, funded by beyondblue, clearly showed that KidsMatter has a positive impact on early childhood education and care services, educators, children, parents and carers.
What we learnt from the evaluation:
- There were improvements in early childhood education and care services' capacity to support children’s mental health and wellbeing.
- Children who experienced the most difficulties at the outset showed the greatest improvements in their mental health by the end of the KidsMatter Early Childhood pilot.
- The KidsMatter Early Childhood professional development strengthened existing good practices within services, improved mental health awareness and reduced the stigma around mental illness.
What we heard from educators and parents involved in the pilot:
- children are more settled, calmer and engaged with their educators, other children and their experiences at the early childhood education and care service
- families talk to educators and other families more often and deeper relationships have developed
- stronger connections developed within the early childhood education and care team
- educators saw benefits at home with their own families and friends
- their service now used the Framework to guide future planning around policy development and children's experiences.