Handbook - a guide for FAIRstart users

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HANDBOOK – a guide for FAIRstart users How to practice the FAIRstart training program in child care institutions.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Answers to frequently asked questions about program use Who can use this program? FAIRstart is designed for residential care units, orphanages, fugitive camps – and for any group care unit responsible for children and youth at risk. Such as health nurse parent group education, kindergartens, etc. Is it expensive or difficult to use? – What is required? The FAIRstart professional training and development program: §

Is non-­‐profit, online, and free for any users


Only requires internet access, a projector and a loudspeaker


Does not increase demands for money or manpower – it was designed for users who can’t expect extra resources


You can use one of the 13 program sessions at two hour staff meetings every three weeks or when you have time. The training is completed in about one year


All employees practice what they learned between sessions

What are the benefits of using FAIRstart? §

You will have access to professional caregiver training, based on the latest results from the best international research in child care


The program has been tested in ten countries by groups of care professionals like you. They say:


It is practical, instructive and creates professional knowledge and pride in the institution


It invites participants to create their own designs for care through engaging dialogues. This makes participants more active, creative and engaged in their work


It does not tell people what to do in an academic way – it encourages open dialogue and local competence development – the participants design their own practice!


Both staffs with and without prior education in child care benefit from the program


It gives all employees a common base for how to understand and practice quality care


It improves the relations between staff members and daily leaders


It improves the development of children and reduces stress in both staffs and children, making the workplace a resource of strength for all.



I. A guide for using FAIRstart training .......................................................................4 II. A short overview of the training sessions .............................................................. 13 III. What happens when you try to change child care practice?............................................ 16 Learning approach in FAIRstart Training ............................................................... 16 IV. A NEW WAY OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPING YOUR PROFESSIONAL SKILLS: LEARNING AT THE WORKPLACE ........................................................................ 17 V. MORE ABOUT THE WORK OF THE LEADER AND THE INSTRUCTOR ..................................... 19 VI. Why develop this program? .............................................................................. 21



A guide for using FAIRstart training

This Handbook is written to guide leaders and program trainers/ instructors in using the free online, one year training and development program for staffs in child care institutions. We recommend that you print two copies of this Handbook, one for the leader and one for the instructor. The text describes how the leader can manage the program and how an appointed instructor can carry out the training sessions and follow up on the work between sessions. In the text you can also read and learn about what should be expected when learning takes place at the workplace and what happens when you try to change child care practice. Finally, you can read about the background for the development of the training program. IMPORTANT ROLES IN CONDUCTING THE TRAINING PROGRAM The Leader: The person who is in charge of the staff’s practical daily care work in the institution. The leader (and that leader’s leaders, or local government or board) is responsible for deciding to use the program. The leader should make practical preparations and a work plan for the staff training sessions, support the instructor and participate in as many training sessions as possible -­‐ especially in the sessions concerning work plans and evaluations. In large institutions several leaders can cooperate to train their staff groups. The Instructor(s): The leader will appoint one or more Instructors. Instructors are responsible for knowing the training sessions in advance, conducting the training sessions and supporting staff in understanding and discussing the contents. To follow up, encourage and support staff in using what they learned between the training sessions. Who can become an instructor? The instructor is appointed by the leader and there are several options: -

The leader can also himself/herself take the role of instructor, if the institution is very small.


A trusted and respected staff member can agree with the leader to be an instructor.


An external professional – a teacher, a psychologist, an NGO -­‐ or other -­‐ person can be instructor. Anyone with experience in learning and in teaching professionals.

The instructor and the leader must work closely together during the entire program. The staff group(s): Employees who perform the daily care for the children. It is important that the program is explained and motivated for them by Leader and Instructor. Their engagement should be appreciated, and they should be encouraged to enter in active dialogues about the program elements and how to implement the elements in the daily work. Now you know the general roles necessary for using the program – let us have a look at the materials at the website! 4

MATERIALS AT THE WEBSITE institutions.fairstartedu.us When you open this link for the first time, institutions.fairstartedu.us , you will see the following elements




You can click and print two “scorecards”: The LEADER’S SCORECARD and THE INSTRUCTOR’S SCORECARD. Using the Leader’s scorecard will give the leader a clear picture of how well staff and leader cooperate. This is important because helpful and joyful professional relations with children only come from helpful and joyful relations between staff members and their leaders. The Instructor’s scorecard will give the instructor a clear picture of the staff’s daily child care practices. The training can inspire how to improve and further develop these care practices. When both leader and instructor have scored their cards, they can discuss and plan how using the program can support cooperation between staffs and leader, and how to improve the quality of care practices. They can set up major goals for development. 6



When you mouse over Sessions” in the menu line, you can see the 13 training sessions. Each session has the same structure: It starts with a learning part demonstrating theory and good practices and questions for group discussions. The last part of each session gives suggestions for how staffs, instructor and leader can work with this until next session. They will actively plan how they want to practice what they learned. Together the sessions comprise the necessary knowledge for practicing quality child care. Child care practice, carried out in accordance with this model will ensure children’s fundamental needs, a healthy attachment to caregivers and promote a mentally and physically healthy development.




In the menu line, you will also see some “resource sessions” which are supplementary to the program. They can be used if you find it relevant. The topics are: §

Working with Children’s rights;


Mental and physical disabilities;


Sexual behavior and contraception;


and -­‐ only in the Romanian language – a guide for First Aid is available.




This part contains the FAIRship Game which is designed for the purpose of letting the players experience and learn – in a different way – about the basic principles behind the Secure Base approach.. Furthermore you will find a list of suggestions for different other games. Using the games is optional. These are all the materials you need for training your institution. Let us look at how to conduct a session. HOW TO USE THE PROGRAM – SHORT TRAINING SESSIONS FOR STAFFS

The program has been designed to be as easy to use as possible. This m eans that training will be an activity, which is part of your daily work. You don’t have to go away for training or to stop working in order to use the program. The idea is that you organize 13 two-­‐hour training sessions for staff, for example at prolonged staff meetings or wherever it is convenient -­‐ 9

maybe once a week, maybe once a month depending on your possibilities. Between sessions you work with the recommendations for practice development. The program progress is flexible. At any time, you can repeat sessions if needed, or decide how fast you will go through the program depending on local circumstances. From the theory and practices learned, you can design your own local model.

STARTING A PROTOCOL OR DIARY FOR MANAGING SESSIONS It is a recommended that leader and instructor keep a protocol or “diary” during the education, describing what leader and instructor have agreed to manage in each session, how staff responded and what they learned in a session, how the practical work between sessions succeeded or not, and any practical problems that need to be resolved. This diary should be open to staff also. FOR INSTRUCTORS: HOW TO CONDUCT A TRAINING SESSION Before you start: 1.

Make sure you have a reliable online connection, a projector connected to it, and a loudspeaker connected for the video sound in the sessions. Test this half an hour before the session to make sure it works.


You must have a room for three hours with chairs for staff, and see that you are not disturbed during training sessions. Participants can sit in small groups at tables or like in a classroom. All participants must be able to see the projector picture on the wall.


Turn on the projector and click session one.

When you open a session, all sessions have almost the same structure: A headline introduces today’s subject. The competences that participants can learn through discussion and practice between sessions. A short text explains the theme of the session. Aims of the session are summed up – why is this necessary or important to work with? The instructor explains this and asks for questions if necessary. Then, click the next number at the bottom of the page. The session pages in texts and videos will explain the theme and demonstrate practices. There are very often planned discussions, and the instructor should make room for this. Show the videos and ask for comments. Always be ready to go back until you are sure that everybody understands the contents. At the end of each session, there are suggestions for what everybody can do until next session, who will be responsible for what, and what each staff member will do. The instructor should be very encouraging and listen to suggestions for how work can be done – the program only gives suggestions, but the plans made by staff, leader and instructor are much more important – ask for good ideas and help with the planning, until everybody knows what they will do until next time. 10

PRACTICE LEARNING BETWEEN SESSIONS Between sessions, the instructor and the leader should support the practicing of the plans made at the end of the session. Ask the staff, help them do what they planned and discuss any problem encountered. Encourage the use of short video or mobile phone recordings of new practices, and store all of them on the instructor’s/ institution’s computer. Make sure that video clips are only for training use, and delete the video from private phones when it has been stored in the institution’s computer. STARTING THE NEXT SESSION When you introduce the next session, a window will pop up:

Please use fifteen minutes to discuss how the cooperation between sessions went. Ask for any questions of doubt and listen to arguments. Show an attitude of understanding and accepting, and underscore that cooperation about something new takes time. If video clips have been made between sessions, see them together and discuss developments and improvements. 11

The sessions start with small practical tasks between sessions, and gradually introduce theory and more demanding development of practices. THESE BASIC INSTRUCTIONS ARE ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ORDER TO CONDUCT THE PROGRAM! This was about how you go through the whole program. Plan sessions ahead and plot them into work plans, so that everybody is present and knows when the next session will take place. In the next sections of the Handbook, you will have some more detailed information about how to succeed with the training: §

What happens when you try to change daily care habits and attitudes – how do you cope with resistance and doubt?


Learning at the workplace – what does it mean to turn your workplace into a place of training and development?


More about the role of leader and instructor.


Why develop this program? – the situation of children at risk and the working conditions of their caregivers.


How to overcome natural resistance to change and support motivation and involvement.



A short overview of the training sessions

Here you will find a short summary of the contents and purpose of each session. This will give you an overview of the progress in the training:

Session 1: This session is an introduction to the training program. You will understand how leader, instructor and staff can cooperate when your institution works with the FAIRstart program. Two by two you will make interviews to understand how experiences from your own life can be a resource in your professional work with children. Finally, you will produce the first small work plan to follow between sessions. The work plan is a tool for using what you understood in sessions.

Session 2: In this training session you will be introduced to the basics of attachment theory. You will learn about Attachment Behaviour, Secure Base caregiver Behaviour and Exploration Behaviour. This will help you to cooperate about making children feel secure. Secure children are happier and are able to learn more. You will learn how to plan daily group and individual activities to provide a secure base in your daily work. This will make your work less stressful.

Session 3: In this training session you will learn to understand the importance of physical contact and stimulation for early brain function and development. You will find new ways to approach and practice your daily routines in order to support and stimulate brain activity in normal babies, and in premature and fragile babies.

Session 4: In this training session you will learn how to practice professional caregiving. You will find new ways to strengthen your social and emotional relationship with the child. You will establish new ways to enforce this relationship while you conduct you daily tasks. You will also study how children respond to care, their attachment patterns, and how you can respond to make children feel secure.

Session 5: In this training session you will exercise how you can observe and recognize child behaviour that reflects early attachment problems, and how orphans may sometimes develop insecure patterns of attachment. You will learn how to respond professionally to children’s insecure attempts to contact you: the avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized attachment behaviors. You can plan in the group how to respond towards insecure attachment behavior in the child group.

Session 6: 13

Here, you are going to develop ways of helping children to overcome the loss of parents, and other experiences representing a severe loss or a sudden separation. You will learn to practice an open and informative dialogue with the child about reactions to loss. You will also learn how to create activities where children can come to terms with their life circumstances, which will make them stronger and more resilient.

Session 7: Here, you learn how to help children develop a positive idea about who they are, and how they build a positive self-­‐esteem. The session will provide you with tools that will help the child to cope with having different sources of origin. Plans for activities and dialogues with children are suggested.

Session 8: In this training session you will evaluate your work during the first 7 sessions and – if necessary – make adjustments. This is to adjust your work with the training and support your professional development process in your institution.

Session 9: In this training session you will learn how to understand the two basic needs children have: personal long term relations to a few stable caregivers, and the sense of belonging to a group of peers and caregivers. You will discuss and perhaps reschedule work schedules, in order to find the best balance between what is possible for staff and leader and children’s need for a few stable caregivers in the daytime. The leader and people responsible for making work schedules participate in this session.

Session 10: Research says that the most important thing for children is to have good social relations. In this session you will have a lot of practical examples: how can you plan and perform relations work with children. The three levels of practical relations: Individual caregiver/ child relations, group relations, and relations in the whole institution.

Session 11: In this session you will explore how cognitive learning (school disciplines: mathematics, language, etc.) is based on pre-­‐school social skills and emotional development. These early skills are: Focus and concentration, recognition, memorizing, sense of proportion, positive motivation and frustration tolerance. The question in this session is: how do we make a social framework that give children these basic psychological skills, for going to school, university and other education?

Session 12: In this training session you will learn to work with supporting the phase of transition when the child becomes a teenager and starts creating its own identity. How to balance behavior control 14

and tolerance for independence by using contracts. You are also going to work with how to prepare the young person for leaving the institution.

Session 13: In this session you will evaluate your participation in and work with the FAIRstart program. You will study your work and evaluate together how it has improved in five different areas: § Outcome in your caregiver practices § Outcome in children’s development and child/ caregiver relations § Outcome in staff competences regarding theory and practices in childcare § Outcome in leader/instructor/staff relations and cooperative competences § Outcome in relations with the local environment and decision makers


III. What happens when you try to change child care practice? Before you start the development process – some advice on natural resistance towards change and development Whenever you make changes in your organization people get nervous, feel a little incompetent, and may resist your suggestions. As the leader of the institution, is it important that you are aware of this typical and understandable attitude. Be kind and insisting towards staff in your promotion of the program, and keep highlighting the advantages and positive outcomes of the program. Do not scold or criticize if people have their own thoughts or if they argue against change. Listen to them, appreciate their worries, ask for their suggestions to overcome problems, and focus on any positive responses. Describe participation in development of child care practice as one of the professional tasks in the job. If there are persons, important for child care, i.e. local politicians or a board in your institution, please inform them about the program. Have their consent and interest if possible. It is an important part of the program that institutions work to break any local isolation from the community, and actively promote their children as visible and equal partners in community life.

(a) Learning approach in FAIRstart Training In the FAIRstart training staffs will learn things which are ‘normally’ learned in education institutions. This theoretical knowledge is important when you observe children’s behaviour and when you and your colleagues reflect on your common child care practise. Therefore the FAIRstart training program combines the theory that you learn with your practical work: because, in order to change and develop your practise so that it fits with the theoretical knowledge of children’s healthy development, you must practice what you learn, exactly where you are working. This is why learning takes place at your workplace. You are not going to an educational institution, far away from your workplace to learn theory on attachment and children’s development – you are establishing an educational institution at your workplace!




The FAIRstart training program differs in various respects from more traditional vocational training and education for staff. First, the training takes place within -­‐ and in close interaction with -­‐ staffs’ daily practice of care giving, where more traditional education and training takes part in a certain distance to the daily practice. Second, the training approach in the program is participant oriented and not as in traditional education oriented in the direction teacher -­‐ > student. This means that the training didactic is learning oriented more than teaching oriented. People learn by discussing and reflecting together on the new knowledge and methods compared to former practice. Third, the training program is based on pedagogic working methods which put a strong focus on the common reflection and interaction between the participants – the staff. Fourth, staffs and leader are co-­‐developers of their own competence development, because the training is designed precisely to the well-­‐known daily practice and because the training material in terms of photos, video recordings and development plans similarly mirrors the frame of practice which staffs can recognize as their own. How to facilitate staffs’ active involvement Facilitating staffs’ active participation and involvement is a prerequisite for their learning and competence development. Where traditional teaching tends to favor teacher directed methods the FAIRstart training favor participants oriented methods – based on the understanding that: You learn by seeing new methods, by discussing what’s in the new methods and by using them in practice.

In the training sessions you will find suggestions for several kinds of such methods, like: §





Knowledge sharing


Group work



It is important that you introduce staffs to these methods if they are not familiar with them as learning methods. In each training session you will find designs for setting up discussions, dialogues, reflections, group work and similar methods. 17




MORE ABOUT THE LEADER’S ROLE The leader has important tasks to perform in order to make the training effort a success for the institution: •

The leader must take the first step – which is the decision to carry out the training programme with the aim of changing and developing the child care practise in correspondence with basic principles for children’s secure attachment.

The leader must be clear and precise in his/her communication with staffs about the development to take place, including the reason for giving priority to this.

During the entire development process, the leader must listen to staffs reflections and reactions to the training.

The leader must demonstrate interest and encourage staffs and instructor to commit themselves for the training, learning and cooperation on the change and development process in the institution’s child care practise

The leader must support the instructor throughout the training and development process as the instructor, especially when the instructor does not have a formal authority, being for instance a supervisor or an intermediary leader without management competence. In some cases the instructor could be a staff member who is given the task and responsibility of the training by institution leader. This might be a sensitive situation for the instructor who should never be left alone with any conflicts concerning the role of being an instructor for colleagues.

MORE ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR’S ROLE The instructor– together with the leader -­‐ is responsible for the planning of the entire training process and staffs competence development in the institution. The instructor cannot do this alone as decisions for the training have to be planned in accordance with the daily child care. §

The instructor is responsible for carrying out the training sessions, i.e. to teach staffs according to content, structure and exercises, given for each session.


The instructor is responsible for supporting staffs’ reflection on the theory concept for secure base attachment, which they learn during the programme and moreover to help them to transfer this new knowledge to their own daily practice.


The instructor is responsible for encouraging staffs to be engaged and involved in the continuing reflection on competence development and to recognise new attitudes and practise by themselves and in the staffs group and in the cooperation between staff and leader.



The instructor is responsible for keeping the leader informed about the training and to ask for leader’s attendance and involvement when needed in order to highlight the priority of staffs’ competence development.



Why develop this program?

Background This program is a competence development program for staff at child care institutions. The program deals with the issue of how to improve the professional care giving skills for staffs working with young children in public care. This involves both daily practises and organizational development. This knowledge was implemented and tested by child caregivers in Europe as part of the project FAIRstart (www.train.fairstartedu.us ), supported by the European Life Long Learning program for the period December 2008 – November 2010. Being assessed by the European Commission and users as a very successful program, FAIRstart was approved to be part of a Transfer of Innovation project to be further developed and transferred to new countries, new target groups and new context for child care. This process took place in the period December 2011 – November 2013. Including both project phases, the FAIRstart program has now been tested and monitored in Romania, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Denmark. As the program has also met great interest outside the European member states, it has been possible to translate the program into a total of 26 languages (www.fairstartglobal.com ). These translations have to a large extent been made by volunteer translators, academics and care professionals.

Why develop the FAIRstart program?

In total 1.5 million European children and youth rely on public care, receiving no parental care. 90.000 European children younger than three are in public custody in institutions or in foster families. They are a high risk group, though they are not all orphans. They may have living parents, but their parents face poverty, migration, drug or other kinds of abuse, and are unable to care for their children.

As EU citizens, these children have basic rights, such as good professional care and human relations, a secure base and opportunities for learning basic and emotional skills.

The best results of care giving (brain development, social function, school and education) are obtained if you improve care giving practices for young children from birth to age three. This program, however, also includes training sessions for working with older children and youth.

Many institutions and foster families are isolated from society, have staffs with low status in society and very limited budgets for training professional care principles and education.


This is why the FAIRstart SBM program focuses on practical professional care giving for the youngest children. However, the theory concepts and care giving practices are also very useful when working with older children and youth.

How was the program developed? The program was developed in project cooperation with the internationally recognised expert in child care development, psychologist Mr Niels Peter Rygaard, Denmark, who works professionally on a knowledge base of scientific studies of work with children placed outside home and it was tested and developed by people like you: § Leaders of child care institutions § Professional care practitioners. Their professional experience and feedback has ensured that the program was modified and designed to be as useful in daily practice as possible, and feedback has also caused that this version has more sessions and comes in two versions: one for institutions, and one for foster family settings. The first version of the program targeted infant and toddler caregivers but this version also includes work with school age children and teenagers. Thanks to the cooperation between the European Union, governments, educational and private institutions, NGO organizations, scientists and daily professional users, the program is today a very efficient, down-­‐to-­‐earth low cost training program, providing education and linking science, decision makers and caregivers in a strong union for the benefit of children and youth without parental care.

SCIENTIFICALLY AND EVIDENCE BASED METHODS It has been a key concern for the developers of the FAIRstart SBM program that recommended methods are ethical and evidence based for the improvement of child development. This goal is achieved by the cooperation with Mr Niels Peter Rygaard. Moreover, universities, child psychiatrists, psychologists and educational professionals in each of the countries have been invited into the development of the program. The cooperation has caused international scientific interest, and currently a special Issue of Infant Mental Health Journal has invited researchers in child care worldwide to describe how their results influence political decision makers in the area of children at risk, and how their research is used in education and intervention programs.

CORE ELEMENTS OF THE FAIRSTART TRAINING The core of the FAIRstart training program is 10 basic principles: they describe what the program tries to help you accomplish – and why – by giving you an opportunity to think about the implications for your daily practices. It is about improving childcare for young children, and the theoretical reasons for doing so. These principles are, in short:


To ensure that local partners in the program are active co-­‐developers of good practice.



To increase early brain activity and development by daily stimulation.


To develop coherent care giving in order to promote secure attachment in children.


To practice and be aware of social interaction in any practical task.


To help children overcome loss and create a positive identity in spite of divided backgrounds.


To develop family like groups for the children in order to promote normal attachment and social skills.


To develop peer relations in family groups for attachment and social development.


To provide basic social, emotional and cognitive learning opportunities for children.


To let the children participate in society life and establish communication between the institution and the local environment.


To provide help for transition from institution to life in society: provide children with knowledge about their UN stated rights and how to exercise them, and inform youth in public care about contraception.

THANK YOU! The transFAIR project team thanks you for your endeavour to improve care for Europe’s abandoned children! We hope the program will benefit your institution.