To support and facilitate young children in this process, Ashwood Children’s Centre is a participant in the Be You program, which is an Australian mental health and well-being initiative set in primary schools and early childhood education and care services (like preschools, kindergartens and day care centres).It’s a framework that helps these places take care of children's mental health needs by:

  • Creating positive school and early childhood communities

  • Teaching children skills for good social and emotional development

  • Working together with families

  • Recognising and getting help for children with mental health problems

In 2021, each room of the Centre is working towards variations of the following goal -

For all educators to acknowledge and support all families upon arrival / departure at Ashwood Children’s Centre, supporting the families’ individual needs.

The poster, 10 things to say instead of "Stop Crying", very clearly represented ways for all of us to achieve the essence of the 2021 Centre goal.
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Mental Health matters for everyone.  For children, positive mental health enables them to continue to learn, grow and thrive as part of a community and through new experiences.  The following definition has been jointly developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (2012):  

Mental health in early childhood is seen in the capacity of a young child within the context of their development, family, environment and culture to:
 

  • Participate in the physical and social environment

  • Form healthy and secure relationships

  • Experience, regulate, understand and express emotions

  • Understand and regulate their behaviour

  • Interact appropriately with others, including peers

  • Develop a secure sense of self

Ashwood Children’s Centre had been involved with the KidsMatter program since January 2016.  In 2019, KidsMatter was combined into the Be You program, a combined "... national initiative for educators [which is] aimed at promoting and protecting positive mental health in children and young people." (taken from pg 2 Be You | Educators Handbook: Early Learning Services
The program utilises the learning community as a whole-of-service approach, and here at Ashwood Children's Centre  we recognise that the whole Centre community benefits through our implementation of the Be You program. Such benefits include:
  • Assisting educators in recognising when children may be at risk of experiencing mental health difficulties

  • Improving understanding of pathways to access professional intervention

  • Supporting and complementing the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) and the National Quality Standards (NQS)

  • Involving all members of the ECEC services community, working together

  • A flexible approach that can be adapted to different contexts

  • Providing evidenced-based resources and tools for educators, families and health professionals

  • Offering professional development and implementation support that informs daily practice

  • Good mental health is vital for learning and life.  Mental health, like physical health, is something we all have and is something that changes over time and in different contexts

  • Research demonstrates that mental health problems exist and can be identified in early childhood

In 2021 the Be You Leadership team is comprised of the following educators and CoM member:
  • Carolynne Kapsa (Educational Leader)
  • Amanda  Lamy(Kindergarten)
  • Gayathri Sunderasun (Possums)
  • Hana Cheong (Gumnuts Room)
  • Nicki Hamilton (Wombats Room)
  • Binh Luong (Committee of Management representative)
Whilst the leadership team both collects and disperses information around the Be You messages, the whole ACC educator and staffing group are instrumental in setting the agenda for discussion and implementing strategies in daily practices.  Along with families, the ACC educators' group are all involved in protecting and promoting children's mental health and wellbeing.

Current action/s being taken: (as at June 2021)

Children will learn from us how to prioritise taking care of their mental health when they see us living it.  Taking care of wellbeing is a lifelong project that we all have … forever.