Early Years graduate Elaine Reed works for Flying Start, a Welsh Government initiative, and works as part of a team for the home-based, psychology-led parenting service, Parents Plus.
"As an Early Years Home Liaison Officer, my job is working with families with children under four in areas of significant social disadvantage in Cardiff. The child has usually been referred by a Health Visitor because of concerns about their behaviour.
Timing is important. By getting in early, we can prevent small problems from getting bigger and we can avoid greater levels of help being needed later on.
We find out what the parent’s concerns and needs are and then plan a parenting intervention. The process incorporates well-evidenced parenting approaches and psychological strategies. The input starts with us getting to know the child through play and discussing the parent’s current approach. I visit the home weekly.
The parents are encouraged to make practical changes in order to achieve the agreed objectives. These can include: encouraging the children to play nicely together, establishing a better bedtime routine or planning how to cope with tantrums. Interventions usually last for 5 - 10 weeks.
The most challenging part of the job is working with parents who don’t yet see themselves as the person who can make any difference. We help them to see that it is only through their understanding and actions that any real change will take place.
The best part is seeing the interventions you have put in place start to make a difference. It is well recognised that children's early years are an important period and experiences at this time impact greatly on children's future development. Knowing you have helped a family through this crucial time and invested in their future is very rewarding."