Barnardos is using it's experience as a trauma-informed organisation to advise and influence how the needs of the children and families who have been forced to flee Ukraine are met, both at Government and a local level. Barnardos officially adopted a trauma informed approach for all its services in 2019.
The below is a list of supports and guidance specific to Ukraine and is available to parents, carers and those working in early years.
Keep calm. Check in with yourself and how are you currently feeling. When you are feeling anxious children can notice this and begin to feel stressed too. If needed, take some time to calm.
Talk to children. We instinctively want to protect children from things that might frighten them; however not talking about something can make children more scared. If children are already talking about the war, encourage them to tell you what they have heard and ask them how they are feeling. If children are showing no interest, leave them be.
Answer questions. Answer children’s questions in language they will understand with a level of information appropriate to their age. Avoid sharing too much information as this can be overwhelming. If you do not have all the answers, that is ok. Tell the child you will let them know when you know.
Create a safe environment. Children need to feel safe and secure. Limit children’s exposure to news reports and discuss your own worries outside of children’s earshot.
Reassure them. Young children often personalise situations and may perceive the danger to be closer to home. Let them know that although war is very serious, they do not need to worry about it happening in their neighbourhood. Tell them you understand how they are feeling and reassure them that they are safe and that you are there to take care of them. It is important, however, to be realistic and not promise that no one will get hurt.
Help children find ways to express themselves. Some children may not be able to talk about their thoughts or feelings but can be supported to make sense of the world through play.
Do something positive. Encourage children to engage in activities where they can feel helpful such as drawing pictures to send to children who are living in affected areas.
Avoid stereotyping groups of people by nationality and challenge hateful talk.
Partner with parents. Share information on the discussions children are having at home and in the setting or any fears or concerns the child may have.
This recorded webinar gives early years educators an overview of the impact of trauma in the context of children arriving in Ireland from Ukraine and explores some of the key considerations to help foster resilience in the early learning and care setting.
Barnardos is committed to supporting early learning and care, school age childcare and childminders through the provision of learning and development opportunities that support the enhancement of knowledge and skills and quality services to achieve positive outcomes for children and families.
Barnardos Bereavement Service is providing training to hotel staff housing Ukranian families who have been bereaved.
Barnardos Bereavement Helpline is open Monday – Thursday 10am-12pm on 01 473 21 10
The Post Adoption team are offering additional support to families with children adopted from Ukraine and Russia
The service is available regionally via three centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway.
Helpline: (01) 454 6388 (Open 10am - 1pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays)