Skip to main content
Date: 17-05-2023

Psychological First Aid Training Guards Children’s Safety in Trostianets, Ukraine

Not a single kindergarten was open in the city of Trostianets that is in Sumy oblast in Ukraine in May of 2022. The community had suffered significant destruction of infrastructure, schools, kindergartens, and community residents' homes because of the war in Ukraine. Three kindergartens opened only at the beginning of June 2022 and one kindergarten in September 2022. Substantial funds were needed for their restoration. In collaboration with War Child Holland, ISSA supported the provision of furniture, toys, meals and stationery for children's activities in these kindergartens. However, these needs have not disappeared. It is still necessary to restore or build new houses, schools, and kindergartens. The war continues, and children’s safety remains a priority.

“Residents who were abroad or in western Ukraine are gradually returning to the community, creating a new need to attract more children to kindergarten,” says Olena Hloba, consultant of the Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation and project expert of Reform Support Team at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. “Therefore, it is necessary to restore kindergartens or create working conditions in those kindergartens – repair group rooms, purchase furniture, bedding, dishes, washing machines, kitchen appliances, build/reconstruct bomb shelters, etc. At the same time, there is a need to overcome trauma and restore the emotional and psychosocial well-being of young children and families. We need to teach parents to help themselves and their children.”

Twenty-seven teachers in Trostianets have already received training in PFA. Among those trained are preschool educators, special needs teachers, and representatives of the education department. Educators gained practical skills in physical and breathing practices for self-regulation. They learned how to create a safe space in a group room, on the street, or in a bomb shelter; how to facilitate children's play, especially when children want to play war all the time; how to talk and initiate conversations with children; how to communicate with parents, how adults have changed and what to pay attention to during communication.

When Ukraine experienced major electricity cut-offs from October 2022 to January 2023, teachers started exchanging “ideas in the dark” – how to keep children busy when it is dark. Individual drawing kits were purchased, and children could draw with a small flashlight. Teachers also instructed parents on how to perform learning and healing activities with their children at home and how to play with them in the darkness.

“We can see that after receiving the training, preschool teachers became more confident in their actions. They are not afraid to make decisions, they know how to calm children and parents down,” continues Olena Hloba. “Children also became less anxious, and their parents became more aware of their needs and reactions, and started to consult with educators, which was not observed for many years. As to the training that we had, I can say that the materials such as the Training Guide created by ISSA, Amna and War Child Holland are well developed, and the trainers did a perfect job in adapting the materials to the needs of our ECD professionals and practitioners on the ground. Besides, the Peer Learning Exchange Sessions hosted by ISSA, during which teams of trainers coming from different countries shared their experiences about the adaptation and implementation of the training at the country level, were also very useful for us.”


A partnership between ISSA, War Child Holland and Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation (amongst other ISSA Members) provided trainings on Psychological First Aid (PFA) to a 10 master trainers who gave subsequent trainings for teachers in Ukraine. These trainers are now providing subsequent training to ECD professionals and practitioners on the ground in a cascade model that aims to benefit thousands of young children, parents and caregivers all over the country.