Baytna: Early Childhood and Family Care
In 2016, with the support of our partner Help Refugees, we set up an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme for refugee children aged 0–6 called Baytna, which means ‘our home’ in Arabic. Baytna is a unique early years programme that has been designed to provide the key emotional support that refugee families require alongside high-quality early years education. It is a flexible model, meaning that Baytna can be created in any environment, be it a children’s centre, a kindergarten or a refugee camp.
Baytna gives families with young children the tools to address symptoms of trauma and toxic stress, build strong relationships and get essential respite from the difficulties of everyday life in camps and shelters. Led by a multidisciplinary team that includes Arabic and Dari-Farsi speakers, the programmes provides psychosocial support that focuses on strengthening the relationship between children and their parents. Since its establishment in December 2016, the programme has supported 785 children and their parents.
Our facilitators develop positive and purposeful relationships with children, support children to build relationships with their peers and also work with caregivers to develop positive and healthy relationships with their children. We do this through:
The Principles which guide the way that we work
The Spaces we create
The Activities we use
Respect: We reinforce self-worth by treating families with respect and having full regard for their feelings, desires and rights.
Understanding: Empathy and positive reinforcement help children to achieve, progress and develop a secure parental attachment.
Curiosity: We build on children’s natural desire to learn and explore, which helps develop their agency.
Context: We constantly provide context through our activities and interactions. This develops a child’s sense of belonging.
Safe: Safe spaces help children and parents to feel secure and confident.
Boundaried: We set boundaries to create a stable and consistent environment.
Contained: As many refugee children and families may have experienced trauma, we create spaces that help to contain and safely process emotions.
Identity-Informed We create spaces that recognize the cultural identity of the refugee families we work with.
Playful: We also place emphasis on creating happy, fun and playful spaces that aid cognitive, social and emotional development and promote joy and relaxation.
The programme is based around core activities that can be delivered flexibly in a way that continually reinforces the principles that guide our work. These activities have been designed to overcome language barriers and support cognitive development, delivering ECCD developmental guidelines. They also provide space and support to overcome adversity and develop resilience.