In October 2023, Open Academy Step by Step conducted a training in psychological first aid (PFA) and trauma-informed practices for 15 early childhood professionals working with young Roma children.
This training was adapted from the Training of Trainers (ToT) on “Foundational Training on Psychological First Aid (PFA) and trauma-informed practices with young children and their caregivers” and delivered in Međimurje, Croatia. Developed by the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) with Amna and War Child Holland, this training is aimed at supporting practitioners working with children and caregivers in challenging and adverse contexts. Open Academy Step by Step was among organizations from 15 countries that participated in an online training hosted by ISSA under the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI) in 2023.
Most Roma children in Međimurje live in adverse conditions and have been subjected to prolonged stress and traumatic events. Considering the negative impacts of exposure to toxic stress on child development, Open Academy Step by Step chose Međimurje to conduct a two-day training to equip practitioners with skills to support children and their caregivers living in such challenging contexts. The training focused on an evidence-based trauma stabilization approach and psychodrama activities for children, placing particular importance on tools for practitioners to maintain their own wellbeing and prevent burnout.
"This type of education is necessary for children at risk of stress and trauma, such as refugee children and children living in insecure conditions. It is also necessary for us, practitioners, and volunteers at risk of burnout and secondary traumatization."
The rollout of this training aligns with the ECWI’s aim to integrate themes of mental health and wellbeing into the pre-and in-service training of ECEC staff and support a scale up at the country level. Moving forward, Open Academy Step by Step plans to expand the scope to include frontline workers working with refugee children and implement regular training in ECEC and primary school settings.