The Preschool Field Officer (PSFO) program contributes to the provision of a quality early childhood program that is able to meet the diverse needs of all children.
The PSFO is designed to provide support and professional services. It aims to build the capacity of early childhood educators to provide for the inclusion and participation of children with additional needs. This includes local government-funded kindergartens, kindergarten programs within a long day care service, cluster managed kindergartens, community-based kindergartens, childcare centres, playgroups, 3 year old kindergarten or family day care.
The Preschool Field Officer program (PSFO) provides one unit of care, up to 11 hours, to eligible children.
The PSFO program is funded by both the Department of Education (DET) and Wyndham City Council, who manage and deliver the service with no additional cost to families.
Who is the target group for the PSFO service?
- 4 year old children with additional needs attending a government funded kindergarten program. This also includes children in receipt of Early Start Kindergarten funding who are attending a three-year old kindergarten program delivered by a degree qualified early childhood educator.
- 3 year old children with additional needs attending an early childhood program in Wyndham, such as a 3 year old kindergarten, childcare centre, playgroup or family day care. To be eligible, children must be turning 3 years of age before 30 April 2017. Please Note: As from January 2017, the PSFO Service in Wyndham will be providing service throughout the year to 3 year old children.
Please note - Children who have a diagnosed disability and are already supported by an early intervention service are not eligible for the service. The educator should seek inclusion support from the early intervention service provider, not the PSFO.
Who are Children with Additional Needs?
The PSFO program defines children with additional needs as children in a funded kindergarten program presenting with developmental concerns. Developmental concerns may be associated with any area of a child’s development, such as;
- challenging behaviours
- speech, language or communication delays
- social and emotional difficulties
- a diagnosed disability
What does capacity building of early childhood educators mean?
The PSFO capacity building approach recognises and respects the expertise and ongoing role of the early childhood educator in supporting children’s learning and development by supporting early childhood educators to:
- Gain the knowledge and skills to confidently implement practices and provide programs that are responsive to the individual abilities, interests and needs of children with additional needs in an inclusive early childhood environment
- See themselves as having both the responsibility and capability to plan for all children in the early childhood program and that it is not only experts with specialist skills who can provide support for the learning and development of children with additional needs
- Respond to parents’ concerns regarding their child’s development.
Support may include:
- Information, resources, program strategies, coaching, modelling of specific skills
- Identification of referral pathways
- Contributing to recognising the child’s capabilities as well as their learning and development needs.
Do PSFOs work with families?
PSFOs work within the context of the early childhood program. The PSFO does not directly deliver intervention to a child within the early childhood setting, but acts as a consultant and coach to the early childhood educator.
This approach may involve direct contact with the child and family in the early childhood setting, however, this work is done in collaboration with and through the early childhood educator in a manner that respects the educator’s ongoing relationship with the child and family as opposed to the short term nature of the PSFO engagement with the child and family.
With parent/carer consent the PSFO can directly observe a child in the early childhood environment and contribute to the educator’s assessment of the child’s capabilities as well as their learning and development needs. This information assists educators and families to make informed decisions regarding referral pathways for specialised assessment or support services. PSFOs also assist the educator to identify and link families to a range of supports available and assist the educator’s program planning for the child in the early childhood setting.
Where an early childhood educator seeks the PSFO service in relation to a child, the early childhood educator is required to obtain informed consent from parents/guardians/carers for PSFO involvement with their child, prior to requesting PSFO assistance.
How to refer to the PSFO Service
Complete and return the Referral Form by post or email to:
Wyndham City Council
45 Princes Hwy (PO Box 197)
WERRIBEE Vic 3030
Please contact the Wyndham City PSFO Service on 9742 8199 if you have any questions.