The learning network will offer early years workers guidance and information to help them improve the mental health and development of the babies and children in their care.
Some of the aims of the network are to enable the Centre to share its learning more widely, and turn its expertise and key research findings into practice. It will also provide opportunities for the Centre to collect insights from those working at a grass roots level.
Alongside a digital platform, Early Years in Mind will provide an outlet for professionals and communities to connect with each other, share knowledge, and find ways to work together to create a shared approach to supporting the under fives.
It will be targeted at early years workers from across the sector - from nursery and childcare workers, to local authority and NHS staff who are working in a range of health, community and family settings.
Camilla Rosan, Head of the Early Years Programme at the Anna Freud Centre says, “Babies and children come with a range of different experiences, challenges and mental health needs. Early years in Mind will offer easy to follow advice on how to support children’s mental health needs generally, and also their social and emotional development. But it will also offer tools and strategies on how they can approach some of the more specific needs and circumstances that are currently encountered by many families.
“We feel there’s a real need for this learning network. The early years are the most important in terms of a child’s development, but in terms of mental health, this area receives a pretty low level of attention and investment.”
As it develops Early Years in Mind will provide free training modules and learning resources for early years workers, along with evidence-based information provided by experts in the early years field.
The network will also offer early years workers guidance relating to the following:
- Supporting parents and carers with their relationship with their babies/infants
- Supporting vulnerable families
- Support the wellbeing of early years staff
- Managing and supporting young children with a range of specific needs
- Providing key services - such as attachment-informed play-and-stay groups and baby clinics
Camilla Rosan added, "A child’s early experiences can impact on how their brain forms and how they develop into adulthood. Therefore, it’s important for their needs to be attended to early on. Early years workers can help with this. With this learning network we want to support the early years workforce and offer them new skills and tools to help them improve the mental health of under fives across the board.”
The network will feature attachment-informed approaches to working with babies and infants, with the aim to improve early years practice nationwide. The project is part of the Centre’s wider plan to create wide-scale, sustainable change and support preventative work with infants and families.
Early years workers can sign up to the Early Years in Mind network.