Q&A with the Yellow Cottage
Hear from the Yellow Cottage, a preschool in Scone, whose philosophy is all about connections, positive relationships and ensuring wellbeing and child safety is at the core of everything they do.
How does the Yellow Cottage promote a child safe environment?
The Yellow Cottage has a moral, ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that all children are safe in their care, and we provide training, resources, information and guidance to support this. We recognise that protecting children is a shared responsibility and we are committed to embedding positive psychology practices that promote wellbeing strategies for our children and their families. We share our strength based approach both within our service and within our community.
The Yellow Cottage is committed to:
- Ensuring that the health, safety and wellbeing of children at the service is protected at all times while also promoting their learning, development and wellbeing.
- Fulfilling its duty of care obligations under the law by protecting children from any reasonable, foreseeable risk of injury or harm.
- Ensuring that all staff, students and volunteers caring for children at the service act in the best interests of the child, and take all reasonable steps to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing at all times.
- Supporting the rights of all children to feel safe, and be safe, at all times.
- Developing connections and embedding a culture in which children and their families feel valued, respected and cared for.
- Connecting with parents/guardians and families and ensuring that best practice is based on a partnership approach with shared responsibility for children’s health, safety, wellbeing and development.
- Promoting child safe practices and wellbeing within our preschool community - we have a strength based approach based on positive psychology practices that are embedded into everything we do.
How do you ensure that all staff in your service are aware of their roles and obligations regarding child protection and mandatory reporting?
All our staff have completed the most up to date child protection course approved by the NSW Regulatory Authority (s162A Education and Care Services National Law). On an annual basis we complete a refresher style training designed to assist our educators in demonstrating the most up-to-date knowledge of child protection. We also ensure that our staff have working knowledge of the policies and procedures in place relating to the provision a child safe environment (R168(2)(h).
We also promote wellbeing strategies and positive psychology and all our staff have been trained in Visible Wellbeing practices and the Strengths Stars Framework.
What procedures are in place to ensure staff are aware of what needs to be reported, how it needs to be reported and when? What support is available to staff when making a child protection report?
We promote and provide an environment in which children, staff and volunteers are encouraged to speak up when they are uncomfortable or concerned. Following Quality Area 2, Element 2.2.3, we require management, educators and staff to be aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect. This includes:
- recognising that the safety of children is everyone’s responsibility
- having a clear procedure for reporting concerns and allegations
- encouraging children to report if they feel unsafe or concerned
- making all staff aware of their duty of care and legal responsibilities
- appropriately acting on concerns and complaints
- keeping and securely storing accurate records.
- supporting staff in the reporting process with the involvement of the Approved Provider and the Nominated Supervisor
- providing debrief opportunities and support for staff involved in the reporting process with a trusted mentor.
What steps have you taken to create and maintain a child safe culture in your service? Can you give us some examples of how children's safety and wellbeing inform your service philosophy, policies, and practice?
We believe that children learn best when they are playing and are involved in experiences and activities that interest and delight them. We provide an inspiring environment for children to develop the skills and qualities needed to flourish in all aspects of life, including school. In preparing children for the future, we also value the “here and now” in children’s lives and allow unhurried time for children to make sense of the world as they play and enjoy being 3, 4 and 5 year olds.
Our Yellow Cottage Philosophy is all about connections and we believe that these are the core of everything we do at our preschool. Positive relationships with children, their families and the community form our foundations.
Three of our staff have completed a Professional Certificate through the University of Melbourne in Positive Education. Founded on the principles of positive psychology, the Professional Certificate in Education (Positive Education) has given our educators the skills to enhance wellbeing and resilience in children.
In this course they learned about principles designed to draw on the children’s individual strengths and better support children, families and staff, with regards to different theories of wellbeing, core positive education constructs, and how to utilise scientific theory to create stronger and safer learning environments.
We have a strong emphasis on wellbeing and apply Positive Education practices to all aspects of our learning environments.
Our guiding principles in Positive Education are:
- Child-centred – Incorporating the voices of children at all stages of development in our education and care settings will inspire participation and decision making for learning success.
- Strengths-based –Engaging and supporting children and their families, enabling growth and learning.
- Learning success – Participation in learning and experiencing learning achievement is integral to wellbeing. Promoting wellbeing and high expectations will empower successful learning.
- Relationships – Respectful relationships enhance wellbeing. Building trust and care will inspire and engage children and their families to learn, grow and achieve.
- Inclusion – Valuing diversity, individual capabilities and unique interests will empower children to have equal rights and opportunities in all contexts of life.
Are there any specific resources you use to help promote a child safe environment?
All our staff have been trained in Visible Wellbeing. Visible Wellbeing combines the sciences of positive psychology with best practice in pedagogy and organisational development to nurture staff and student wellbeing through three key elements:
- make wellbeing an intentional and visible aspect of preschool life
- systematically integrate evidence-based practices shown to increase wellbeing into all aspects of Preschool life (not just the classroom)
- use this knowledge to support our families and the community in wellbeing practices.
The Yellow Cottage was given the amazing opportunity to share our strengths-based work with Professor Lea Waters as she developed the Strength Stars Framework. We piloted a lot of Professor Lea Waters, Visible Wellbeing Framework in our preschool and we worked with her to develop the Strength Stars Framework that has been based on the Strength based practices we use here at The Yellow Cottage. Our staff became champions for this framework and helped to mentor and train staff from other early childhood services in our Hunter Region.