P. Santos1, L. Carvalho2, C. Silva1, F. Feliciano3, S. Agra1

1University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
2Associação Nacional de Intervenção Precoce (ANIP) (PORTUGAL)
3Superior Institute of Intercultural and Transdisciplinary Studies (PORTUGAL)
Early Intervention (EI) means to offer the children who are at risk of developmental delay (for either biological or environmental factors), optimized opportunities for growth and development. And that means, necessarily, to offer their families the needed support, so they are able to adequately promote their children's well-being and development, dealing with the circumstances they live in and the characteristics of the children, counting on their own strengths and resources, plus the ones of the community they live in.

In Portugal, since the Decree Law 281/2009 (and, before, the Decree Law 891/1999; earlier, since the 1989’s EI Integrated Project of Coimbra), we’re working to implement a National System of Early Intervention in Childhood, which must be family centered, focused in relationships, based on strengths, ecological and reflective; developed by a transdisciplinary team (composed by educators, psychologists, therapists, social workers, doctors and nurses), in the natural environments where the lives of children are taking place, in a community based dynamics (the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Security, along with non-profit associations, are responsible for organizing and monitoring the teams who are intervening with the families and the communities).

For the last twenty five years directly involved in Early Intervention structures (in Coimbra and in Aveiro) – as home visitors, trainers, supervisors and researchers – we know that relationships are at the heart of Early Intervention. They offer the way for optimizing the process of the child’s development, the family’s and the EI professional’s learning processes, too.

Since 2009 developing the research project Promoting Relational Competences in Early Intervention through the Video Home Training/Video Interaction Guidance Method - first, funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and, for the last three years, by the Foundation for Science and Technology* - we’ve been studying the impact of applying the Video Home Training / Video Interaction Guidance (VHT/VIG) Method in children’s development and growth, in families’ depression symptoms and their competences to identify resources and needs, and in the EI professionals’ vulnerability to stress and their performance as early interventionists, operationalized in terms of sensitivity, stimulation and promotion of families’ autonomy. In this presentation, we’ll analyze the potentiality of the VHT/VIG method to promote adult learning, and the research data about the impact of the project in the EI professionals' vulnerability to stress and in their performance as early interventionists.

*Project financed by FEDER / Competitive Factors Operational Programme–COMPETE and FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology (COMPETE: FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-014395).