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  1. Their challenges are our challenges
  2. Helping under 5s through the pandemic
  3. Top tips for parents and carers
  4. Coronavirus: From the perspective of a baby or young child
  5. Transitioning to nursery or reception after lockdown
  6. Returning to nursery
  7. Child in Mind podcast
  8. Advice for professionals working with young children
  9. Protecting children in the time of COVID-19:
  10. Coronavirus: Keeping in mind the children of high conflict separated parents
  11. Additional support

Their challenges are our challenges

A recent 2020 survey by the Anna Freud Centre has revealed that a high proportion of nursery workers have experienced working with children facing extremely complex backgrounds and challenging emotional and behavioural needs. Many admitted that they had found these needs difficult to manage.

Domestic violence, parental substance use, abuse and bereavement were listed as some of the issues affecting the children in their care. Other challenges involved different emotional or mental health needs. The effects of the pandemic were also a cause for concern for some of the respondents.

According to the survey, many nursery staff feel under-prepared for this side of the job and wanted more access to training.

The survey received responses from over 900 UK nursery staff during the last three months of 2020. Its findings feature in the attached report, Their challenges are our challenges:

Have you noticed signs that some of the children in your care have been affected by the pandemic and lockdowns? If so you may be wondering if others have noticed the same signs. One of the questions we asked when producing our Their challenges are our challenges report asked whether they felt children in their care had been affected by the pandemic, and if so, how. 

Click here to read about the seven common themes that emerged from the feedback we received. We’ve also included some other observations that were offered to us by nursery staff, some of which may surprise you.

The pandemics effect on the mental health and wellbeing of the under 5s in early years settings

Helping under 5s through the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone, including babies and young children. They might be affected by the anxiety of their parents and carers, huge changes to their routine, or by a variety of losses, like not being able to see family members or no longer having contact with playmates. If you are a parent or carer with a young child under 5, there may be ways you can help to support them through this difficult time. 

This content was reviewed in March 2021.

Helping babies and young children under 5 through the coronavirus crisis

Top tips for parents and carers

Families play a hugely important part in supporting each other at times of uncertainty or concern especially as you will probably be spending more time together due to home working, school and activity closures, and other public health measures.  

This pdf provides some simple advice and guidance to parents and carers to help support your child through the various changes they are experiencing and worries they may have during the pandemic.

Download our tops tips pdf

Coronavirus: From the perspective of a baby or young child

Dr Camilla Rosan from the Anna Freud Centre explores the potential impact of the current situation on the youngest members of our society. She provides guidance on how parents and carers can understand and support young children, as well as themselves.

Read the blog here.

Transitioning to nursery or reception after lockdown

Lockdown has led to many children under 5 being unable to access nursery, reception, or other early years settings.  In this episode we explore the impact of changing routines on under 5’s, to help you to think about how you can understand and support your child if they are starting at a new school or nursery, or returning after a period of absence. 

Skye Blyth-Whitelock from the Anna Freud Centre discusses children’s experiences with an Early Years Locality Leader, working for a Local Authority, and a nanny, working with young children.

Returning to nursery

Join Early Years in Mind

The Early Years in Mind learning network is a free network for early years staff and practitioners. By joining the network you will have access to termly newsletters and events, updates on current research, thinking and training, in regards to the mental health and wellbeing of babies, infants and their families.

View Early Years in Mind.

Register to join Early Years in Mind.

How can early years workers support families and children to return to early years settings?

How can childcare workers support families and children to return to early years settings?

During the pandemic, babies and young children have been impacted in a number of different ways. Some childcare settings have been closed or have experienced severe staff shortages, some families haven’t felt safe for their children to be in childcare arrangements, and some families could no longer afford to pay to send their children to childcare settings.

It is clear that our youngest children have been greatly affected by the pandemic. As schools and early years settings re-open or resume face to face activities, childcare workers can support your children through these changes to their routine and increased time spent away from the family and with other people.  This will help your child to adjust to these transitions in a way that is more manageable for them. 

The following booklet was reviewed and updated in March 2021. 

Child in Mind podcast

Our Child in Mind 'Bonding with your baby' podcast explores what it means to securely bond with your baby, how this bonding can affect your child's development as well as useful advice for parents to support this bond.

Presenter Claudia Hammond is joined by Dr Linda Mayes, the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology in the Yale Child Study Center and expectant mum, Rhian Filbey.

Listen to Bonding with your baby

Advice for professionals working with young children

Services working with children and young people are well aware of the uncertainty which communities are facing, and the impact this could have on mental health. There are ways in which you can provide key support in your own setting in the midst of changing times.

Working with babies, young children and families on digital platforms

Download advice for professionals working with children

Protecting children in the time of COVID-19:

Working digitally with risk, uncertainty, and loss

A series of professional learning spaces created by the Anna Freud Centre to explore the challenges and opportunities of working with vulnerable children and families during the global pandemic.

Chair: Nicola Labuschagne

Anna Freud Centre Speakers: Gema Hadridge, Anna Freud Centre Ellie Geater, Team Manager, Hackney Childrens Services Sarah Jones, Social Worker, Hackney Children’s Services Dr Denise Turner,

Chair: Nicola Labuschagne

Anna Freud Centre Speakers: Gema Hadridge, Anna Freud Centre Dr Aaron Balick, Director, StillPointSpaces Dr Amanda Tayler-Beswick, Queens University, Belfast

Coronavirus: Keeping in mind the children of high conflict separated parents

Dr Emma Morris of the Anna Freud Centre urges professionals to keep in mind the children of separated parents during the coronavirus lockdown. While the challenges are many, this should not lead to a loss of support. We can play a huge part in helping parents mediate, mobilising networks and checking in with the child.

Read the blog here.

Additional support

Discover more about the advice and support we're providing to young people, parents and carers, schools and colleges, mental health professionals and researchers.

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Training for Senior Mental Health Leads starts this month.

Sign up with the Anna Freud Centre, the UK’s leading mentally healthy schools charity.

DfE grant funding is available to cover the cost of our Senior Mental Health Lead training.

Find out more

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