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Wellbeing in the early years


Two weeks ago Fiona from Kāhu Tū Kaha, Charlotte from Glen Innes Family Centre, Karl and I ran a workshop on the early years system mapping work we have been doing. The aim of this project is to try and understand and document the enablers and barriers to wellbeing for young children and their parent/s or caregivers and whānau.

The workshop was attended by a number of local early years’ service providers, research and education experts, a team member from our partner organisation Tāmaki Response and healthcare. Thank-you to those who attended and helped us with this work.

At the workshop we walked through the processes we have taken in this project presenting our findings to sanity check them. The project included desk-top research to identify service providers in the Tāmaki location, a literature scan of best practices and approaches for wellbeing in the early years, systems mapping and interviews.

We chose to use systems mapping as it provides a mechanism for visually documenting and understanding how complex networks and relationships interact. We were able to document multiple 'actors' such as individuals, organisations, service providers, local shops, green spaces and so on.

The mapping process involved talking to a number of local families and service providers to discuss their definitions and experiences of wellbeing. Families’ definitions of wellbeing included warm homes, reducing stress, an improved financial status and looking after themselves. Families spoken with also noted that helping others and contributing back to society was important to them.

We then explored the services and resources (such as green spaces or parks) that they used. Barriers to wellbeing were explored and documented. The strength of relationships including negative experiences were also captured. Individuals (including families) who took part in building these maps told us they liked the process as it was relationship focused and helped them to see all of the supports they had available to them. Systems mapping also allowed the individual/s to lead the mapping process and focus on what was important to them.

This was the first time for our team to use systems mapping. We found that participants engaged easily in the discussions. Participants were also able to identify what was lacking or any barriers to wellbeing for them and young children/families, This method also allowed the individuals to lead the mapping process and focus on what was important to them. Another positive outcome from this project is that some of the smaller non-government organisations (NGOs) involved stated the focus on and mapping of relationships was extremely meaningful to them and the way in which they approached their work..

At the workshop we held a discussion and added to the insights map developed from all of the maps, interviews and desktop research. Further refinement work of the insights map will now take place before we hold a final workshop with local parents and families. We are looking forward to checking our insights so far and then building the final model with Tāmaki whānau.


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