Channeling my Inner Child

May 16, 2022

Site Visit- Ladywood Family Center

We visited an early years facility called the Ladywood Family Center. The area of Ladywood is the 12th most deprived local authority in England and the local community is very ethnically diverse. Often, the residents do not speak English as their first language so the staff at Ladywood Family Center has to use creative methods of communication and teaching.

When we toured the facility, I noticed that the children are allowed to explore and guide their own learning. They were so cute when we observed them in the classroom 🙂 We learned that the main focus on this program is to encourage children to break the cycle of unemployment in the community. They do this by preparing the children to be on track for reception (like Kindergarten in the States) and continue with their class to finish secondary school (high school). Other cool resources they have for the kids are a sensory room and small library to encourage exploration and reading. Their story of the term is The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Although this charity mainly covers early childhood education, it does a lot for the families in the community as well. Some of the programs they offer to families are on topics such as financial literacy, government benefits, parenting, and cooking nutritious meals on a budget. They also perform home visits and offer some practical emotional support. I learned they do not have the capacity for mental health services at this time; instead, they will make a referral. This difficultly with accessing mental health services is a very common theme I am seeing throughout the country.

Overall, I was very inspired by the work they are doing to support the community as well as the children. Hopefully, this holistic approach to education will make a great difference in the lives of the children in the community. When I am back in the States, I am curious to do research about if there is anything like this near me.

Us in one of the playrooms in the Ladywood Family Center

Social Work Team at BCU

Our lecture today focused on social work. My first thought when I heard social work was child protective services in the United States. However, after hearing from the two Sallys and Birgit on their roles, I was so enlightened to hear about all the other things they do.

Sally has two autistic children and therefore knows the system of special education through experience. The gist of the system is that unless you have a label, you cannot get services. This is a huge problem because the NHS is so backed up that a formal diagnosis can take up to 3 years to get. That is 3 years of time that the children is not getting the education they deserve. If you cannot wait, the average cost for private diagnosis is $2000; however, the local authority may not even approve it because they want to use vetted professionals and get multiple opinions from occupational therapy, speech language pathology, physical therapy, teachers, and school counselors to name a few. This is a huge barrier for education for children with SEND.

Once again, I curiously asked about the role of social work in accessing mental health services. They divulged that there aren’t any social workers in the schools, but they are doing research towards it. The study has already shown that social workers can make a huge difference with early interventions. In a perfect world, social workers would be in every school; however, neither the UK nor US will ever have the numbers of certified professionals to meet the needs of the communities.

A really cool part of this lesson included reflection on our personal code of practice. When I am a health professional, I will value inclusivity, advocacy, and compassion. Some areas I will need to work on is communication with patients and coworkers, especially on complex topics that I may not be an expert on. I think this reflection is important to remind ourselves why we are going into this field. I am scared about my future in nursing all the time, but reminding myself of my values and goals helps.

Meeting BCU students!

After our lecture, we finally got the chance to talk to some BCU nursing and education students! We did some nursing and catchphrase trivia, recited the BCU nursing code of honour, then gathered around to eat pizza. We talked about EVERYTHING we could think of such as differences in education, healthcare, politics, food, music, and more. I can’t begin to list out everything we discussed, but my favourite thing was when one of the girls told another that her torch was on (meaning the flashlight on her phone)! This discussion was so refreshing because I got to hear about topics other than healthcare and education and ask questions I have been waiting to ask.

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