The Preschool Field Officer (PSFO) service contributes to the provision of a quality early childhood program to ensure it meets the diverse needs of all children.
The PSFO Service is designed to deliver professional support and consultation. 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 service (PSFO) provides one unit of care, up to 11 hours, to eligible children or services.
The PSFO service 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 of the current year.
Please Note: Children who are already supported by an early childhood early intervention service are not eligible for the PSFO service (e.g. Brotherhood of St Laurence or NDIS). The educator should seek inclusion support from the early childhood early intervention service provider, not the PSFO.
Who are Children with Additional Needs?
The PSFO program defines children with additional needs as children in an education and care setting 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 support from 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.
Who can request support?
- Early Childhood professionals
- Parents/Guardians in collaboration with the child’s educator
- Other health care professionals with parental/guardian consent and in collaboration with the child’s educator
Can parents contact the PSFO service?
Parents of children who attend an early childhood service who have concerns regarding their child’s development are encouraged to discuss these with their child’s early childhood educator in the first instance. Where a parent directly contacts the PSFO program, the PSFO will liaise with the relevant early childhood educator to progress the request for support.