TOPIC SECTION ANNUAL REPORT 2019–2020 16 RIPLE P AND VIRTUAL PALS PROGRAMS OLD AND NEW Virtual PALS The Playing And Learning to Socialise (PALS) Social Skills Program teaches children aged three to six skills they need to build friendships and get along with others, particularly the social skills needed to do well in school. BUSHkids’ CPSS services offer the PALS program to all childcare and kindies in their locations to focus on children in the three-to-five years age group. The key targets are those children getting ready to transition to prep the following year. Social and emotional skills play a vital role in children being able to navigate a smooth transition to school. PALS has three characters – hand puppets which model social dilemmas to facilitate social skills learning. The program consists of puppetry, songs, stories and fun activities. Recently, in a PALS group in Kingaroy the group was working on managing frustration and anger. Jack (one of the puppets) could not find the car he brought for show and tell and he was getting frustrated and angry. Up jumps a four year-old child and says, “Jack, I know what to do; Jack, calm down and use your rainbow breathing and Jack, you need to say ‘I can do it’ – now Jack, say it with me: ‘I can do it’.” What a great outcome: a child who could say what to do and also showed empathy to Jack! During COVID-19 lockdown, the Kingaroy staff moved all programs to teleHealth using the ZOOM platform. Staff were very nervous, thinking that it would be impossible to develop rapport with little people using ZOOM, but they said “I can do it” – just like they teach! – and then completed multiple virtual PALS sessions during the pandemic’s first months. A lovely incident highlighted that connection formed with children via teleHealth when Early Intervention Facilitator Elizabeth Rolph was out delivering session resources at a childcare reception area. Out of a room came a little girl with her Mum, ready to head home. Screams of delight: “BUSHkids, BUSHkids, Mum it’s BUSHkids!” Elizabeth said hello to this excited child who promptly asked where Elizabeth’s blue shirt was. Elizabeth replied, “Sometimes I wear other coloured shirts too.” This child had been used to Elizabeth wearing her blue BUSHkids shirt. Elizabeth reflected she did not expect that much connection to occur through the ZOOM medium. (We now fondly refer to Elizabeth as the ‘BUSHkids blue giggle’ (the name starting with W- was taken!) as she is our very special teleHealth superstar in CPSS. Fourteen class groups of children attended the 10 weeks of PALS Social Skills Program during 2019–20 – four in the Agnes Water region (including Miriam Vale and Rosedale), three in Stanthorpe, with two outreach to Texas, and seven groups provided by Kingaroy. Programs old and new Many staple BUSHkids programs needed to be adapted to meet COVID-19 restrictions but transitioning to digital delivery and online connections for children and families has been very positive overall, with two new programs introduced this year. Triple P Positive Parenting Program ® is one of many parenting programs BUSHkids provides to families in the community. It is an evidence-based program which gives parents tools and strategies to raise their children in safe and nurturing environments. The program empowers families by giving them the confidence and skills to build good relationships with their child and assists with such things as setting boundaries and rules and follow up with safe consequences. Currently our staff in Warwick and Dalby are trained to deliver these services to families, and parents can participate in community seminars, group programs or 1:1 sessions. Staff can also provide parents with useful tipsheets for different age groups on a wide variety of topics, such as Going Shopping, Homework, Tantrums, Language, Screen Time , and Separation Problems . Feedback from parents is very positive and with much gratitude for this assistance from BUSHKids staff.