Mrs Kym Dunstan1, Ms Skye Frazer-Ryan1
1Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing, Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Brisbane, Australia
Early education benefits all children, especially those experiencing disadvantage and we know it produces the greatest return when it’s of high quality. In partnership with state-wide early childhood partners, the Centre for Children’s Health and wellbeing are carrying-out a cost-effective, community capacity building approach to support early children education and care (ECEC) sector staff to increase knowledge of early childhood health messages and integrate this knowledge into daily practice to enhance the health of the communities they service.
This project aims to bring together local ECEC educators and key partners in identified communities throughout Queensland to engage in free face-to-face health professional development (PD) that complements the early years learning framework and provides opportunities for reflective practice to foster good health and wellbeing of children in the local community prior to school-age. Health content planning is informed by Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data and identified needs from the sector.
Activities include health content webinar, reflective practice with local facilitators, Q&A, networking, local health panel, and follow-up newsletters.
Evaluation was carried out with Griffith University to investigate knowledge, attitude, and skills of staff and application of key strategies. Highlights have included an increase from the initial ten communities to 15 with requests from an additional five communities, increased community capacity and ownership to deliver locally, translation of strategies into daily practice, increasing subscription numbers for each newsletter, requests for Healthy Kids by other communities and increased opportunities for collaboration amongst partners.
Community accessible AEDC data has allowed ECEC services to look closely at the needs of the children they work with. Evaluation of this project suggests participants found the program to be useful, relevant and of value to their role as an educator, increasing their knowledge and skills around specific topics and application to daily practice.
Kym is a paediatric speech pathologist with experience working in Australia, New Zealand and UK providing services to children with communication delays, disorders and other developmental difficulties. Kym has worked in Education and Health sectors, community organisations and private practice.
Kym’s current role with the Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing team (Children’s Health Queensland HHS) involves bringing together knowledge about the Social Determinants of Health and the importance of the early years to improve health equity, especially for vulnerable children. This involves applying a speech pathology perspective to develop strategies and responses to improve communication outcomes for children.