The Need for an Early Intervention Training Strategy for Early Years Professionals
Managers of children’s services are becoming more aware of a need to equip their workforce to identify the early signs of developmental delay in children as early as possible due to a majority of their referrals having social communication difficulties. At the same time commissioners are seeking effective, well thought out strategies that can be delivered by under-fives services, in collaboration with one another rather than in competition or in isolation.
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It’s vital that there is a cohesive strategy for detection and intervention across all early years’ services that will pick up early signs of alarm before they become full blown developmental issues. By knowing what to look for and by spotting the signs of alarm in infants, support can be put in place during pregnancy and through the first few years of life in order to strengthen the parent infant relationship so that potential long term issues can be nipped in the bud. Of course, the impact of this is a phenomenal saving to the government and an improved quality of life for families.
In the first two years, the brain is still plastic and malleable, and is being wired up for life. After this window of opportunity closes, habits become entrenched and in some cases, irreversible, demanding expensive interventions at a later stage with very little result. For these reasons, very early intervention makes sense.
It is possible to train, equip and strengthen the existing workforce that is already positioned within each borough so that they are able to detect signs of alarm and make appropriate intervention to reduce long term damage to families. For instance, Social Services are best placed to be involved in the early detection of issues during pregnancy as they are more in touch with the traumatic lives of the most vulnerable client group. Health visitors and the home care team are in touch during the first year of life. Family workers and nursery nurses are a valuable resource because their training already equips them to be observers rather than advisors. Organizations such as the NCT and Infant Massage providers are also ideally situated to pick up very early signs of alarm because they work very closely with young infants.
The capacities to observe and to reflect are skills that are crucial to the process of early detection and intervention and should be the main ingredient of early intervention training. The art of observation is also central in the practice of psychoanalytic parent infant psychotherapy, which is proving to be an effective tool in bringing relief and healing to troubled families.
Bespoke training packages are available according to the needs of your organization. You will also be
signposted to existing training convened by experts in the field of parent infant psychotherapy.