Parental mental illness: Cross-sectional analysis of family focused practice within the early childhood sector

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During the preschool years (3–5 years), children living with parental mental illness are more at risk of various adverse developmental outcomes, compared to other children. Early childhood services are opportune settings for prevention and early intervention strategies that may support preschool children living with parental mental illness. However, there is limited research examining how the early childhood sector supports the child, parent and family. The aim of the study was to explore family focused practices within the early childhood sector in terms of the level of self-perceived knowledge, skill and confidence; and compare the self-perceived knowledge, skill and confidence between preschool teachers and childcare workers. A sample of 40 preschool teachers and 39 childcare providers rated themselves across eight domains that describe their knowledge, confidence and skill using the Family Focused Mental Health Practice Questionnaire (FFMHPQ). Overall, the sample rated themselves positively across all domains. In a cross-sectional analysis, a t-statistic comparison of preschool teachers and childcare providers showed that childcare providers scored significantly higher than preschool teachers in parenting support, referrals and assessing the impact of parental illness on the child. Future studies might identify the barriers and enablers for Family Focus Practice (FFP) across different groups of workers in the early childhood sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1650-1660
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

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