ChildLinks Issue 2: Staff Wellbeing in Early Learning and Care

Barnardos. (2022). ChildLinks Issue 2: Staff Wellbeing in Early Learning and Care.
Caring for and educating young children in Early Learning and Care (ELC) settings is often very rewarding and fulfilling work. However, the role of the early years educator can be emotionally demanding, and this, coupled with often low wages, poor working conditions, a lack of role clarity and leadership, high staff turnover and low professional status can all result in educators feeling high degree of stress, depression and burnout. The multiple time pressures and limited resources in ELC settings can also lead to a working environment that offers little in terms of staff care and wellbeing. Given what we know about the importance of the quality of relationships and interactions between young children and the important adults in their lives, as well as the link to child outcomes, poor educator wellbeing can impact not just on the individual educator themselves, but also on the children in their care. It is essential that attention be paid to reducing the stress and promoting the resilience of early years educators so they are best equipped to support the children in their care. In the first article in this issue of ChildLinks on staff wellbeing in ELC, Oke, Hayes and Filipovic draw on their study looking at the experiences of burnout among early years educators in Ireland and consider the importance of educator wellbeing in early childhood practice, for both educators themselves and for the children in their care. Concerns about wellbeing are not just confined to staff in Irish ELC settings, however. Also in this issue, researchers from the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center at the University of Colorado highlight how personal demands experienced by the early years workforce and work conditions within settings can negatively affect job satisfaction and wellbeing among staff in the US. Another article looks at the negative impact of Covid-19 on educators’ wellbeing in Australia and outlines how some organisations have supported early childhood educators, as well as the children and families in the setting. In other articles, National Childhood Network highlight how child and educator’s health and wellbeing is promoted in Healthy Ireland Smart Start Programmes for ELC services; Amy Dowd from Cuan Bhríde Childcare Centre in Roscommon outlines how, as an ELC manager, she works to provide a positive and supportive work environment; and Sheila O’Malley, a professional trainer in wellbeing, gives her suggestions as to how to work without sacrificing yourself. Finally in this issue, Sharon Byrne, Barnardos Early Years Development Coordinator, looks at the potential impacts on educators who work with children and families who have experienced trauma, and explores some of the ways that ELC services can support their staff to prevent burnout and secondary trauma.