Early learning program on pathway to success
Published Tuesday, 12 September, 2017 at 08:22 AM
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games
The Honourable Kate Jones
A new early learning and development program will help give vulnerable Queensland children a better start to their education.
Education Minister Kate Jones and Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman launched the Pathways for Early Learning and Development (PELD) program at Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre today.
Ms Jones said the Palaszczuk Government would invest $10.6 million to set up 12 new early childhood learning and development services across the state following the success of a pilot program.
“The program focussed on children’s development while also addressing family needs including poverty, housing, domestic and family violence, or mental health issues,” Ms Jones said.
“The results were overwhelmingly positive and that’s why we will extend this service to 12 more locations.”
The pilot program supported 237 vulnerable children aged under five.
The State Government will run an open market grant process to invest $2.64 million each year for four years across 12 priority locations from January 2018.
Ms Fentiman said the pilot program confirmed integrating early childhood educators alongside family support workers was very effective.
“These vulnerable and disadvantaged children experienced significant educational and developmental improvements from the support they were given,” Ms Fentiman said.
“By the end of the pilot they were more school-ready, including improved abilities to listen, respond to structure and routine, and engage with other children and educators.
“Their parents have benefited as well, with better parenting skills, connections with support services and positive parent-child relationships.
“These children have enjoyed a better transition to Prep and have a reduced risk of entering the child protection system.”
Ms Fentiman also announced that the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre would receive almost $4.5 million over the next five years to deliver intensive family support services.
“Some of Hervey Bay’s most vulnerable families will benefit from this new service,” Ms Fentiman said.
“We know that the needs of vulnerable families are becoming increasingly complex and that’s why stepped-up services are so important to help keep them safe and together.
“These services are designed to provide targeted and intensive support to families before they reach crisis point and reduce the number of children and young people who need to go into care.
“They are designed to work with families to help them adequately nurture, protect and keep their children safe.”
“Places like the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre are part of the lifeblood of the community and provide life-changing services for many local families,” Ms Fentiman said.
“I’m proud to be part of a government that provides such strong support to make these services possible.”
Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh said the West End-based organisation’s IECD pilot provided invaluable support to 95 families with 114 children.
“It provided parents and children with the opportunity to be supported through multiple service components, depending on their individual needs and circumstances,” Ms Walsh said.
“Combining home visits and group connections, many parents found the early childhood focus assisted them in their understanding of their children’s developmental needs and helped build their confidence as parents.”
Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service Family Wellbeing Service Manager Rell Semmens said the organisation’s experience with IECD working in a family support program was an exciting journey.
“There was no prescription so it allowed our team room, flexibility and time to trial different ways of working with children and families,” Ms Semmens said.
“Child-centred play-based activities in homes and around the local community supported parents to enjoy just being a family and doing things together.
“It reinforced the importance of making time to just be in the moment with a child.
“Observing and hearing families recognising and celebrating milestones and achievements was a powerful outcome.”
Minister Jones office – Matt Jutsum - 0408 998 940
Minister Fentiman office – Inga Williams – 0410 769 711