For some of our littlest children, this is the heartbreaking and sad reality.
The Foundation’s Christmas Appeal this year focuses on its Early Years Trauma Consultancy (TraCS) program which supports young children who’ve experienced trauma and violence.
Lee Cameron, the Foundation’s Head of Care, has worked with traumatised children for many years.
Children like Jake, a 4-year-old boy who as Lee recalled “had never had a kind word said to him”.
“On his first day of kinder he stormed in, fists clenched and an angry frown on his face. He was causing major problems at day care, always sitting with his back against the wall and kicking and hitting other children.”
The teacher had responded by having Jake come and sit next to her so she could keep an eye on him. But this was a child who was living with violence. He was terrified about sitting with his back to open space and wanted to be up against a wall where he could keep an eye on everyone. This little boy had grown up always looking out for threats and scanning for danger, he was in a constant heightened state of alarm.
“When his stepdad came to pick him up, he would move his backpack from his back to his front. He was visibly terrified and always made sure he stood where he couldn’t be slapped or hit or punched. It was clear that at the heart of Jake’s behaviour was the fact that this little boy was very, very frightened,” Lee said.
Lee was able to recognise Jake’s fear. She advised the teacher to go and sit next to Jake, so that he could be beside her but still have his back protected. Finally, Jake began to relax and become comfortable enough to listen and learn.
But early childhood educators are teachers, not social workers, Lee said.
“They aren’t trained to know how to identify and respond to children with severe social issues, who are homeless, subject to violence or showing signs of distress and trauma. Not all children express their fear with aggression, some just become very quiet. And it can take an expert to see it.”
That’s why the Foundation created the TraCS program. Our family practitioners and trauma consultants work with early childhood teachers and educators to both help them learn ways to recognise and respond to traumatised children and to provide assistance to families of children at risk.
This year, the Foundation needs help to further develop and extend this program so we can take it to more kindergarten and day care teachers and reach more families and children at risk.
With your help we’ll work with educators to spot children who need help and, where needed, to actually provide referrals and other support directly to families and children.
There are many more children and educators who desperately need this program.
You can show our most vulnerable that you care and help change a child’s life by making a donating today.
Click here to make a donation.
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