Early Start,
Bright Future
Project (ESBF)

Early childhood is the best time to positively impact the future health, wellbeing and development of a child.

The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre) has a vision for every child, regardless of postcode, family circumstance or cultural background, to thrive when they enter school. Currently around 1 in 5 children in Australia arrive at school developmentally vulnerable and once that gap opens it is difficult to close.

The Centre is funded by the Department of Education (DoE) to deliver the Early Start, Bright Future project aimed at improving participation into universal early years services and optimising the longer term learning and development outcomes for all children in Victoria experiencing vulnerability.

This project is focused on supporting professionals to connect families with children 0-8 years into appropriate early years services, with a focus on access to two years of kindergarten before school.

About esbf

Our work
•  The Early Years Hub is a website which houses multiple different types of resources to inform practitioners in their support of children’s access to early childhood education and care supports and services.  

•  The Early Years Finder links professionals with detail about the programs, services, subsidies and supports available to enable early years opportunities.  

•  The Resource Library houses research and factsheets for professionals, parents and carers to scaffold children’s early learning journey.

•  Our monthly newsletter offers professional development opportunities, resources for practitioners, relevant sector updates and spotlights promising practice and innovative programs supporting early childhood development.  

•  Our Bi-monthly Early Years Participation Network meetings to connect family services practitioners with early years stakeholders to promote collaborative practice. You can learn more about our network below.

•  We run webinars and online training sessions throughout the year to provide insight into the early childhood education and care supports and services available for children and families, avenues of connection and support for practitioners, and thought leadership and best practice knowledge.  

Why we do it
Evidence suggests that First Nations children, children in Out of Home Care (OoHC), those from non-English speaking backgrounds, children with a disability and those from low socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to attend early childhood education and care, yet have the most to gain from participation.

We want to turn this around.  
We aim to improve equitable access to early years education and promote the early years as a sensitive and critical period for children’s development by building the capacity of the Child and Family Service sector and encouraging collaboration with other early years stakeholders.

About the network

The Early Years Participation Network (the Network) is a statewide, multidisciplinary group committed to improving children’s access to and participation in early years services and supports through the development of collaborative, cross sector partnerships.  

The network brings together Child and Family Service professionals, Child and Family Health Nurses, Early Years professionals, Playgroup facilitators, Allied Health professionals and more!

The network: • Supports connection and collaboration for diverse professionals
• Provides sector updates and professional development opportunities
•  Builds and communicates evidence on the barriers to and enablers of kindergarten access and participation to our colleagues in the Department of Education Victoria.

Why is the network needed?
Across Australia there is growing interest and investment in early years education. In Victoria, the Best Start Best Life reforms offer unprecedented access to free kinder and a range of policies and programs designed to support equitable access. These reforms will help bridge the equity gap if the children and families who stand to benefit most are able to access and meaningfully participate in kindergarten and the other ancillary supports they need to thrive.  In the context of a changing policy landscape and workforce turnover in family services, health and early years education – a connected, collaborative, solution focused partnership working to improve outcomes for children and families has never been more important.  

Our purpose The participation network has been established to:  
• Highlight current research, emerging themes, as well as patterns and challenges for vulnerable families and children accessing early years services.  
• Provide opportunities for the development of collaborative partnerships across the early years and Child and Family Services sectors to improve outcomes for children and provide a collective voice in advocating for change.  

Our objectives The main functions of the participation network are to:  
• Share de-identified experiences of the complex barriers families face when accessing early years services and, where possible, how these have been successfully addressed.  
• Explore ways that we can improve children’s access to early years services through the development of collaborative, cross sector partnerships.  
• Provide feedback and ideas on resources, training, practice guides or other materials to support increased uptake and engagement with early years kinder.

For more information or to register to join please contact us.

Early Start, Bright Future Logo


Our newsletter is intended for all professionals working with families with children 0-8 years. It includes regular updates and information about the Victorian roll out of the Best Start, Best Life reforms, the NDIS Early Childhood Approach, early years subsidies for families, and access to resources to support work with parents and carers of young children. Upcoming training and webinars are also advertised through this newsletter.

See past newsletters

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.