Supporting families from diverse communities
Children in early years settings will come from a wide range of cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds. It’s important that practitioners support, respect and celebrate the variety of beliefs and values that belong to the children and families in their care. As early years practitioners, you are in a unique position to support children as they are developing a sense of their own identity and formulating their attitudes about other people.
Working with diverse communities is about more than celebrating differences though. Early years settings do not exist outside of wider societal structures. It is therefore important to be aware of how inequalities, discrimination and personal biases affect families, and how to address them. For example, unconscious biases (which we all have) include stereotypes, confirmation bias (seeking or favouring information that confirms existing beliefs) and judging people on first impressions. These biases may lead to children and families not being cared for, supported and protected appropriately.
From a safeguarding perspective, the needs of the child are paramount. Understanding their individual identity, their protected characteristics and their experience of inclusion or exclusion at home, in school and in wider community contexts is vital. Giving due attention to the nine protected characteristics set out in human rights legislation is an important aspect of understanding the child’s identity and socio-emotional development. These characteristics include age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity. Consider whether unconscious biases in your setting might impact upon your onward referrals to social care or other partners.
Get free advice emailed to you
Early Years in Mind is a free online network for early years practitioners. The network provides easy to read and easy to use guidance on supporting the mental health of babies, young children and their families.