Early Years Connect – Building Skills, Building Inclusion

Early Years Connect

Every Child (16-03, September 2016)

‘Building skills, building inclusion’

Are you an early childhood educator based in Queensland? Then you need to know about Early Years Connect. The latest in professional development for inclusion support, Early Years Connect is a collaborative project of Early Childhood Australia (ECA), C&K and Autism Queensland, funded and supported by the Queensland Government.

Early Years Connect is all about strengthening the inclusion of children with disability and complex additional needs in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.  It’s been developed specifically for ECEC educators in Queensland and includes a wide range of resources, including monthly webinars, online learning modules, information sheets, a blog.  There is also a Facebook page, designed to facilitate discussion between educators. All of these resources can be accessed via the Early Years Connect website (www.earlyyearsconnect.com.au), which forms the central hub of the project.

Early Years Connect aims to give ECEC educators working with children with complex additional needs the skills to assist every child to learn, develop and participate fully at the service. The Early Years Connect resources help participants to understand why the inclusion of children with disability and complex additional needs matters, and how to meet these children’s needs. These resources are free for all Queensland ECEC service staff, including long day care, family day care, kindergarten and outside school hours care services.

Early Years Connect features 15 online learning modules (being released progressively) that can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All professional development completed through Early Years Connect can also be recorded within an eJournal, a portable, secure electronic journal for each participant.

The monthly webinars feature expert presenters on topics like strategies for children with speech, communication and language needs, IT tools to support learning, understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and managing difficult behaviours. The webinars are hosted live at various times of the day and evening, and a recording of each webinar produced is available on the Early Years Connect website and can be accessed at any time. Each person who registers and logs into the live webinars also receives a certificate of attendance.

Early Years Connect also includes a series of information sheets addressing legislation, updating your policies and procedures, inclusion and working with families and allied health professionals to support children with disability and complex additional needs.

In addition to providing online resources, Early Years Connect is forming communities of practice and support, through a blog and a Facebook discussion group. The blog features real-life stories, expert advice and information updates. ECEC educators are warmly encouraged to contribute to the blog – through submitting short pieces of writing or simply commenting on posts.

Finally, the Facebook page allows educators to connect and collaborate with each other online, at any time. The Facebook group is not open to the general public, and access is controlled by the Early Years Connect team of moderators. This is a safe space to engage in reflection, offer support and tips and celebrate your achievements in building inclusion for children with disability and complex additional needs.

Visit the Early Years Connect website (www.earlyyearsconnect.com.au) and build your professional skills and leadership today!