Connecting professionals to health, education and care services for children in the years before school.
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Parenting Program
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Developmental Delay
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Playgroup
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Maternal Child Health
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Service
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Refugee or Asylum Seeker Background
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Subsidy
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Kinder
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Disability
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Family Violence
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Child Protection
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Mental Health
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Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
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Education
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Trauma

Access to Early Learning (AEL)

Access to Early Learning (AEL) is a free early intervention program for three-year-old children from families experiencing multiple challenges. Under this program, eligible children are enrolled into a high-quality Three-Year-Old (3YO) Kindergarten program, and their families are connected to an AEL Facilitator. The AEL Facilitator collaborates with the family and the kindergarten service to address barriers and promote meaningful participation.

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Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Outreach Initiative

CALD Outreach workers address barriers to kindergarten access and participation for children and families from CALD backgrounds. They also support families transition to school, as well as ongoing engagement and participation in education.

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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Early Childhood Approach

The NDIS Early Childhood Approach provides support for children younger than 6 with developmental delay or younger than 9 with disability. Support can include connection to community and mainstream services, short-term capacity building or an application to the NDIS. A child does not need a formal diagnosis to access the early childhood approach – having concerns for a child’s development is enough to trigger a referral. If you are working with a child under nine years and have concerns about their development, including a formal diagnosis, make a referral to the NDIS Early Childhood Partner in your community.

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Aboriginal Playgroups

Aboriginal Playgroups provide a culturally safe, fun and supportive space for Koorie parents, grandparents and caregivers to share ideas and experiences while their children interact and play. They can be a soft entry point for families transitioning into kinder and school and provide parents/carers with access to culturally safe information and programs to support their child’s health, wellbeing and connection to culture.

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Aboriginal-led Maternal and Child Health (AMCH) Services

Aboriginal-led Maternal and Child Health services work in partnership with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and their families from birth up until they start school. The Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health (AMCH) service can be accessed through a family’s local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) and provides culturally supportive care to Aboriginal children and their parent/carers around key developmental ages and stages.

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Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) Child Wellbeing

The ACCS Child Wellbeing helps eligible families by providing access to 100 hours of subsidised childcare per fortnight. The ACCS Child Wellbeing is for children identified at risk of serious abuse or neglect and children who live in formal Out of Home Care (OoHC) arrangement including foster or kinship care. The ACCS Child Wellbeing provides assistance to ensure the cost of childcare is not a barrier to supporting a child ‘at risk’.

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Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) Grandparent

The ACCS Grandparent helps eligible grandparents who are the primary carer of their grandchild by providing access to 100 hours of subsidised childcare per fortnight. The ACCS Grandparent provides assistance to ensure the cost of childcare is not a barrier to supporting children living in kinship care.

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Balert Gerrbik: Koorie Families as First Educators

Nine Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across Victoria deliver parenting support through the Balert Gerrbik: Koorie Families as First Educators (KFFE) Initiative. The program is for children from pre-birth to 5 years of age and their families. KFFE partners with Koorie families to provide a strong foundation for their children's early learning and development through a high-quality, culturally safe, evidence-based parenting support program. Balert Gerrbik means ‘my strong family/kin’ and is from the Taungurong language.

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Best Start

Best Start is a Department of Education funded, place-based initiative which brings together formal collaborations between local agencies and service providers across Victoria. Best Start partnerships work towards locally identified goals focused on strengthening early childhood services for Victorian children and families.

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Child Care Subsidy (CCS)

The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is accessed through Centrelink and helps families by reducing the cost of early childhood education and care (ECEC). The CCS is applied for by the parent/carer themselves via myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. Parents/carers need to meet Centrelink’s eligibility criteria including residency and immunisation requirements to receive this support.

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Child Information Sharing Scheme

The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) allows authorised organisations to share information to support child wellbeing or safety.

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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provide specialist mental health treatment and care to children and young people aged 0-18 years.

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Child and Family Hubs

Child and Family Hubs provide integrated services for children and families with a ‘no wrong door’ approach. The Hubs aim to create a welcoming, non-stigmatising entry point for children and families to improve their access to the multiple services they need by situating them together.

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Chronic Disease Management Plan

Children and adults who may have ‘chronic and complex medical needs’ may be eligible to receive a Chronic Disease Management Plan (CDMP) through Medicare, which entitles them to benefits covering a total of five Allied Health services.

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Community Hub Initiative

The national Community Hub initiative is funded by philanthropy and all levels of government to increase the social and economic opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse children and families. Community Hubs are currently located across three states: Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and are co-located on school sites. They are designed to be welcoming places where parents and carers from refugee and migrant backgrounds can connect with others in their local school community.

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Community Playgroups (parent-led playgroups)

A community or parent-led playgroup is a group of parents or caregivers with their babies, toddlers and preschool children who get together regularly for play and social interaction. Community playgroups are not facilitated by professionals and bring young children, parents, carers, families and communities together to learn and develop through informal play activities and social interaction.

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DFFH Supported Playgroups (smalltalk)

DFFH Supported Playgroups deliver an evidence-based program (smalltalk) to families facing complex challenges and support parents/carers to develop the skills and confidence to support their children’s safety and development. Families are also supported to connect to their local community including informal supports and specialised services. DFFH Supported Playgroups are delivered by qualified and trained facilitators who also provide 1:1 support to families in their homes focussing on improving parent/child interactions.

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Early Childhood Improvement Branches

Early Childhood Improvement Branches (ECIBs) operate in all 17 Department of Education areas across the state. They have specialist staff who work with early childhood professionals, services, and providers to support with the provision of resources and tailored advice to enable children’s access to funded kindergarten programs across ECIB’s can support priority cohorts, including children living in Out-of-Home-Care (OoHC), children at risk of abuse or neglect, First Nations children, children seeking asylum or those with refugee status. Children of multiple births (triplets or more) and some concession holders are also prioritised for kindergarten access.

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Early Parenting Centres (EPCs)

Early Parenting Centres (EPCs) are free, early intervention services that provide specialist support for Victorian families with children from pregnancy to four years. They deliver flexible, targeted services that aim to enhance the parent-child relationship and support parents with strategies for achieving their parenting goals. These goals are often in areas such as sleep and settling, child behaviour, and parent and child health and wellbeing. Families are able to self-refer for this service.

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Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) grant

During the rollout of the Best Start, Best Life reforms, Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) remains an important grant which gives eligible three-year-olds priority access to 15 hours of free or low cost kindergarten per week. Children who experience vulnerability have the most to gain from two years of high-quality kinder. The ESK grant aims to reduce financial barriers for families accessing kinder. The grant is paid to services and attracts extra funding to support children’s inclusion and success in the kinder program. Continue reading to see if the ESK grant can support the children and families you work with.

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Enhanced Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service

The Enhanced Maternal and Child Health (EMCH) Service is an extension of the Universal MCH service. The EMCH service assists eligible families to manage risk factors impacting child development and supports parents/carers to connect with their community and provides a more intensive level of support to eligible families, in the form of targeted actions and interventions. Families can access up to 20 hours of support for children up to 3 years of age with provisions made for rural and remote areas to receive additional hours. This is in addition to the hours children receive in the Universal MCH program.

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Evidence-Based Parenting Programs

Evidence-based parenting programs offer parents support to strengthen their relationships with their children, build parent’s skills and confidence in parenting and promote positive child development. Evidence-based parenting programs focus on promoting positive play, parent-child interaction, managing behaviours in a positive and consistent way and social-emotional regulation. Evidence-based parenting programs are delivered by trained facilitators either individually or in a group setting and have undergone a rigorous evaluation process to demonstrate their effectiveness with select cohorts.

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Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme

The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS, the Scheme) allows authorised organisations to share information related to assessing or managing family violence risk. The Scheme supports authorised organisations to: keep perpetrators of family violence in view and accountable and promote the safety of victim survivors of family violence

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Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework

The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) guides professionals working with individuals affected by family violence. It promotes a comprehensive, informed, and collaborative approach to risk assessment and management, ultimately contributing to safer communities and better outcomes for victims and survivors.

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Flexible Support Packages

Flexible Support Packages provide short-term assistance for children with backgrounds of complex trauma and extreme behaviours where support is required to stabilise their enrolment/attendance at kinder. Packages may be used to support a child in the short term while determining what longer-term support might be needed.

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Free Four-Year-Old Kinder

All three and four-year-old children across Victoria can now access Free Kinder at participating services. Free Kinder is funded by the Victorian Government. For four-year-old children, this means access to 15 hours of a kinder program per week (600 hours per year).

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Free Three-Year-Old Kinder

All three and four-year-old children across Victoria can now access Free Kinder at participating services. Free Kinder is funded by the Victorian Government. In 2023, families can access Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs for between 5 and 15 hours per week.

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Grandparent, Foster and Kinship Carer Adviser Line

Centrelink’s dedicated phone line to support formal and informal carers including grandparent, foster, kinship and permanent carers, connect to eligible Centrelink payments and services. The Grandparent, Foster and Kinship Carer Adviser Line can support grandparents and non-parents carers understand what Services Australia payments and services they are eligible for and support them through the application processes.

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Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY)

The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a two-year, peer-delivered, home-based, early learning and parenting program designed to support ‘school-readiness’ and a love of learning through empowering parents as their child’s first and most important teacher.

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Inclusion Support Program (ISP)

The Inclusion Support Program provides support to Commonwealth funded early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to address any barriers to inclusion for children with additional needs. The Inclusion Support Program supports the inclusion of all children and may be available for children with a disability, undergoing assessment, with serious medical needs or trauma-related behaviours. The Inclusion Support Program can also support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds or from refugee or humanitarian backgrounds.

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Interpreting services

Everyone has a right to an interpreter so they can access the services they need and be given information in their own language to participate in decisions that affect their lives. To make sure language is not a barrier for parents/carers accessing services and supports, access to interpreting services and translated materials should be offered when working with families who have limited English. Access to translated material is helpful, however this is not appropriate for all families as there may be other barriers to consider such as literacy skills.

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Kindergarten Central Registration and Enrolment Scheme (CRES)

Kindergarten Central Registration and Enrolment Scheme (CRES) is a best practice model for local councils to support families and carers in securing a kindergarten place for their child.

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Kindergarten Inclusion Support (KIS)

The Kindergarten Inclusion Support (KIS) program provides capacity building support to Victorian funded kindergarten programs so they can respond to the individual abilities, interests and needs of children with a disability, developmental delay, or complex medical needs.

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Koorie Engagement Support Officers (KESOs)

Koorie Engagement Support Officers (KESOs) are an important support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children engaging with early learning and beyond. KESOs provide advice to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services about culturally inclusive learning environments and support educational engagement and improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

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LOOKOUT Early Childhood Learning Advisors (ECLAs)

LOOKOUT Education Support Centres support children living in Out of Home Care (OoHC) achieve the best educational outcomes. LOOKOUT Centres work with children from kinder through to educational pathways at the end of their schooling journey. LOOKOUT Early Childhood Learning Advisors (ECLAs) work with kinders and engage the team around the child including early childhood services, child protection practitioners, contracted case managers and carers to ensure children living in OoHC, can access and engage in high quality kinder programs and experience a supportive transition to school.

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LOOKOUT Streamlining Access Officers

LOOKOUT Streamlining Access Officers (SAO) are part of the Department of Education (DE) workforce, and aim to improve the engagement of vulnerable children and promote enrolment into high quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) with a focus on children known to Child Protection aged 0-3 years.

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Long day care (childcare)

Long day care, often called childcare, is centre-based care provided by early childhood professionals for children from 6 weeks of age until they start at primary school. Quality matters, and most services will have a National Quality Standard (NQS) rating which is one way of helping families choose the best service for their children.

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Maternal and Child Health (MCH) App

The free Maternal and Child Health app (MCH app) provides reliable information for families matched to the age of their child. The app can also track a child’s growth and remind families about upcoming MCH appointments or immunisations.

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Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Line

The confidential, 24-hour Maternal and Child Health Line provides information and advice about the care and health of a child from birth to school age. When families call, qualified maternal and child health nurses can discuss concerns about child health and nutrition, breastfeeding, parent/carer health and any parenting issues.

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Multicultural Playgroups

Multi-cultural playgroups can support a child to build bilingual language skills, learn through play with their peers, and connect parents, grandparents and carers together so they can share ideas and experiences. They can also provide a soft entry point for families transitioning into kinder and school.

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MyTime Peer Support

MyTime is a free peer-support group program led by a qualified facilitator for parents and carers of children with a disability, developmental delay or chronic medical condition. Children in the years before school can attend, and a play helper will be on site to support their engagement.

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PlayConnect Playgroup

PlayConnect is a free, safe and supported playgroup run by a facilitator for children on the Autism Spectrum, or with developmental delays or behavioural concerns, and their families.

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Pre-purchased Places

Pre-Purchased Places (PPP) are fully funded kindergarten places reserved by the Department of Education to ensure children experiencing vulnerability who miss enrolment processes or move during the year can access a place at a local kindergarten.

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Preschool Field Officers (PSFOs)

The Preschool Field Officer (PSFO) program provides capacity building support to Victorian funded kindergartens. PSFOs support the access, inclusion and participation of children with developmental concerns in the kindergarten program. PSFOs are based in each region and provide consultation, resources and practical advice to early childhood teachers and educators. PSFOs may also assist teachers/educators to link children and families with helpful supports.

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Priority of access policy

The priority of access policy applies to all services delivering a state funded kindergarten program in Victoria. The policy outlines a criteria which prioritises the enrolment of children at risk of disadvantage to access a kindergarten program.

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Provider Eligible Arrangements

A provider eligible arrangement (PEA) may be used streamline access to the Additional Child Care Subsidy where a child is deemed at risk and there are barriers to access due to Child Care Subsidy eligibility.

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Specialist Disability Support Practitioners

Specialist Disability Support Practitioners (SDSP) are located within each Child and Family Services Alliance. They can support children and families experiencing vulnerability who live with a disability. A particular focus of the role is to provide support to families with NDIS access and participation. SDSPs are also responsible for building an understanding and capacity amongst professionals about disability supports and linkages within the broader Family Services programs within their Alliance.

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The Orange Door

Each Orange Door is a network of services working in partnership to provide safe and accessible support. It is available for adults, children and young people experiencing family violence or families seeking support with the care and wellbeing of children and young people.

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Universal Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service

The Universal Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service is a free universal primary health service available for all Victorian families with children from birth to school age accessed via a family's local council. Through the Universal MCH (UMCH) program, MCH nurses provide check-ins for children around key developmental ages and stages to monitor their growth and development and provide information relating to parenting, family wellbeing, and additional health information. MCH nurses also offers additional visits, first time parenting groups, and links to local community activities and services when extra support is needed.

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bupup balak wayipungang initiative

wayipungitj work out of local community-based organisations and support Koorie children and their families to engage with culturally inclusive kinder programs and support Koorie parents, families and carers feel confident and comfortable to be involved with the kinder journey.

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Early Start, Bright Future acknowledges the Tradition Custodians of the land on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty has never been ceded and this was and always will be Aboriginal land.