|Abstract (english)|| |
The paper deals with the professional competences of educators employed in children's homes where children and young people without parents or without adequate parental care are raised. Educators employed in a children's home can be professionals of different formal education such as educational and rehabilitation sciences, social work, psychology, pedagogy and speech therapy, as the educational study for work in the children's home does not exist. The issue of competences of educators in the Republic of Croatia has not been thoroughly investigated until now. Educators' competences are placed in the context of modern changes and the process of deinstitutionalization, which requires effort to be based on scientific facts and programs that contribute to positive outcomes for users. The purpose of the paper is to expand the knowledge about the competences of educators in children's homes based on the review of theoretical knowledge and the results of empirical research. The work is divided into two parts. The first, theoretical part of the paper, is to give an overview of children's home, a great deal of criticism of homes presented by the authors in recent years. Children and young people who come into the system are burdened with numerous problems, both emotional and behavioral, with numerous traumatic experiences. Various models present in the world, good home practices and presentation of user surveys, as well as their perspective are described. Further consideration is given to the concept of upbringing, its aspects, tasks and goals that must be directed towards the positive development of the user. The educator, as the holder of direct educational work in the home, has numerous tasks that must be put into function of their educational work. Related to this, they need to possess many competences for successful work. The concept of competences and different approaches to competences are considered, as well as the requirements for qualifications and necessary knowledge of educators in accordance with modern knowledge and the present process of deinstitutionalization. From the theoretical part of the work it is clear that educators need knowledge in the field of trauma. It is necessary to raise awareness about the impact of trauma on users, understanding, recognizing and responding to the effects of trauma, creating physical, psychological and emotional safety of users, and empowering and helping users to restore a sense of control and take an active role in the recovery process and all due to the traumatic history of the users. Educators need knowledge and understanding of the theory of attachment, difficulties that can arise if users are insecurely affected, and ways in which they can favorably influence the development of safe attachment. The second part of the paper is a review of empirical research conducted on a sample of 137 educators employed in children's homes in the Republic of Croatia by the method of assessment and self-assessment. This is convenience sample. Data were collected via instrument which was designed for the purpose of this research based on adapted version of the questionnaire Pedagogical-competence profile of secondary school religious teachers (Ninčević, 2012) and Self-reported Competency Scale (Hartje et al., 2007) based on the features of the concept of positive development of children and youth (Eccles and Gootman, 2002) The aim was to determine what makes a competent educator and to determine the knowledge, abillities and attitudes of educators toward their own competence / incompetence to work with children in the home. The issue of educators' competence starts from a holistic approach to assessment and the theory of positive development of children and youth, given that programs that integrate theoretical propositions on a practical level have resulted in positive outcomes for children and youth. Pedagogical competences that will contribute to the positive growth and development of users were investigated. Educators also assessed the suitability of the work environment and the difficulties they encounter in their work. Differences between educators were tested with regard to the type and level of formal education, length of service, form of care in which they work, attendance at supervision and professional development. With regard to the performed assessments and self-assessments of educators, a total of three main hypotheses were tested. At the end of the paper comments of educators were analyzed. The first research task was to investigate through an assessment of educators which of the listed pedagogical competencies the educators consider important for the successful work of educators in the home. The results of the research indicate that educators consider that pedagogical competencies are extremely important for successful work. By assessing the importance of pedagogical competences, three factors were obtained through factor analysis: Pedagogical competences for individual approach, Knowledge of the law and the rights of the child, and Pedagogical competences for group work. There is no difference between educators with regard to independent variables, they agree in their assessments. As can be seen from the results, the educators also agree that they need skills and abilities that will enable users to develop positively. Factor analysis resulted in five factors: Structuring of individual work activities, Structuring of group work activities, Ensuring safety, Expectations in accordance with the individual and Cooperation. The Cooperation factor was the only factor that the educators did not perceive in the same way and did not give it the same importance as the rest. Nevertheless, the first main hypothesis (Hg1) was confirmed. Educators believe that pedagogical competences are extremely important for the successful work of educators in a children's home. They are relate to group and individual work, and are important pedagogical skills and abilities that enable the creation of an environment aimed at the positive youth development. The second research task was to investigate one's own experience of pedagogical competences through self-assessment, so, educators assessed their own pedagogical competences and pedagogical success. Educators feel mostly pedagogically successful. They feel satisfaction and security when they work with children, they manage to create and maintain a positive atmosphere in their work, they use various methods, they plan their work regularly and they communicate with children and colleagues successfully. The least competent feeling is working with children who have developmental difficulties. Educators assessed their pedagogical success through 5 factors: Successful group and team work, Professional development, Insufficient pedagogical competences for working with different groups, Insufficient formal education and Satisfaction and commitment to pedagogical work. Educators perceive the professional work environment as favorable. The favorable working environment can be seen in security, well-defined work tasks, decision-making opportunities, appropriate encouragement and professional development opportunities. The biggest difficulties for educators are communication with parents, involvement of all users in activities, and achieving educational goals. Educators assess their own development of pedagogical competences as good or very good. They perceive themselves as competent, but the second main hypothesis can be only partially accepted. By putting pedagogical knowledge, skills and abilities in the function of direct work with users, the results show that educators have the abilities related to the implementation of appropriate activities and that they support users and have expectations that users can fulfill, that is, they respect individual differences, needs and interests of a user. However, their abilities, according to assessments, are insufficient to ensure the complete safety of the users in the children's home and to achieve an appropriate work structure in the children's home. Deficiencies were noticed in the field of working with children with developmental disabilities and competences for cooperation, especially with the parents of beneficiaries. Although educators' self-assessments tend to have higher values, if we look at them in relation to assessments of necessary competences, which are almost always higher, in that case, we cannot consider educators to be pedagogically competent enough so the second hypothesis (Hg2) can be partially accepted. The third research task was to investigate the existence of differences between the assessment of generally desirable pedagogical competences and actually existing pedagogical competences based on the assessments and self-assessments of educators. Self-assessment of competences is observed in relation to the assessment of the required competences. The arithmetic means of self-assessment of the development of competences in relation to the assessment of their importance for performance are different. The estimates of required competences have higher arithmetic means while self-assessments of the development of those competencies have lower arithmetic means. The difference is statistically significant. So, the third hypothesis (Hg3) must therefore be rejected. There is a statistically significant difference in terms of the assessment of the necessary pedagogical competences and the actually self-assessed pedagogical competences of the educators. The length of service variable makes a statistically significant difference, whereby educators with the shortest length of service are judged to be less competent than those with the longest length of service in terms of Knowledge of the law and children's rights and Intercultural (in)competence. A statistically significant difference was confirmed for the factor Expectations in accordance with the individual, whereby educators who did not attend supervision and those who did not have a single day of professional development are judged to be significantly more competent and are considered significantly more important. Educators with secondary school education are considered less competent compared to educators with higher education. The conducted research provides initial insights into the investigated issue and opens up possibilities for further research. Further research can be carried out by using the assessment method and by involving other professional workers and the director of the home in assessing the competences of educators. In addition, it would also be interesting to check how the educators' competencies are related to the structuring of the children's home program and the psychosocial climate in the home, that is, checking specific competencies that are predictors of a positive psychosocial climate. In conclusion, the results of this research show that a professionally competent educator is made up of pedagogical competencies that are manifested in the organization and implementation of group and individual work with users, knowledge of laws and children's rights, and pedagogical skills and abilities that enable the creation of an environment that will contribute to the positive development of children and young people. For the positive development of children and young people, it is necessary that educators have the ability to plan, organize and carry out appropriate activities with users aimed at strengthening their individual capacities, expectations that are in line with the individual, to encourage interculturality, ensure the safety of users and successfully structure group activities. Given the observed lack of competence, educators need to be provided with continuous professional training related to working with children and youth with developmental disabilities, pedagogical work with parents, structuring group activities and ensuring safety.