Best Start is a prevention and early intervention program that aims to improve the health, development, learning and wellbeing of all Victorian children from conception through to transition to school (up to eight years old).
There is consensus that a loving, healthy and intellectually stimulating early childhood is critical to a person’s wellbeing and success throughout their life. Children who have a strong start in life are more likely to do well academically and socially as they grow older. Conversely, young children who miss out on positive experiences with parents, caregivers and educators are much more likely to have to struggle to catch up.
Best Start is characterised by an approach that supports parents and caregivers to create a positive environment for children by encouraging communities to work with their local early years services and schools.
Communities and service providers collaborate to address issues as they are experienced at a neighbourhood or regional level.
This localised, targeted way of finding solutions to problems faced by families has been shown to be extremely effective. Efforts are focused on boosting children’s participation in the programs we know have the best results for setting them up for success, such as kindergarten and maternal and child health (MCH) services. The program also puts in place prevention strategies, such as providing referral pathways when targeted supports are required.
Wyndham Best Start
Wyndham Best Start is a collaboration between organisations that are committed to building a robust early years’ service system to improve the outcomes for children experiencing vulnerability and their families in the City of Wyndham.
The Wyndham Best Start Partnership Group and Working Groups consist of local community service organisations and include local & state government representatives.
For more information about the Wyndham Best Start program, or if you would like to be involved in the working groups or Partnership Group, please contact the Best Start Facilitator on 9742 0762 (Tuesday to Friday), email Wyndham.BestStart@wyndham.vic.gov.au or visit the Best Start Program website – Department of Education & Training
Best Start Primary Outcomes
In June 2015, the Department of Education and Training (DET) announced new key direction for the Best Start Program.
The shift provided greater attention on the participation of all Aboriginal children and children experiencing vulnerability in key universal and targeted services, in particular in kindergarten, MCH services and Supported Playgroups which will further support improved outcomes for all Victorian children.
This includes implementing the two new primary outcomes with a focus to support access and participation for all Aboriginal children and children experiencing vulnerability.
Primary outcomes are:
- Children engage and participate in early childhood education (e.g. kindergarten and supported playgroups)
- Children and families actively engage with Maternal and Child Health services
Wyndham Best Start Initiatives
Work is currently being implemented by Best Start partners to work towards the new Best Start outcomes.
The following initiatives have been developed and sustained by Best Start Partners over the last 4 years.
Wyndham Child and Family Directory (WCFD)
The WCFD was developed as part of the Pathways Project, with the aim to connect families with information about services to support their child’s (0-12 years old) learning, health & wellbeing.
Joining the Dots E-update
The aim of the Joining the dots e-update is to link services with each other through monthly updates promoting activities, programs, training and relevant information for the early years, family support services and schools sectors, with an emphasis on supporting vulnerable families & their children (0-8 years).
The Joining the Dots e-update is uploaded onto the Wyndham Child & Family Directory at the start of every month.
Community Connections Pilot – engaging families in early years and school programs
The pilot aimed to ensure that all children arriving at school were ready to engage in learning. This is a long-term goal.
The project recognised that being ready to engage at school means that children have the social, emotional and learning skills and attitudes that will enable them to benefit from the school environment. Activities and processes implemented throughout the pilot acknowledged that in order for this to occur, a number of things needed to take place before children get to school:
- Participation in high quality early childhood services.
- Strong relationships between early childhood services, schools and families to support a smooth transition to school for children and families.
- Families supporting their children's learning and development
Community Connections is now in the sustainability phase and the network meetings are being chaired and led by the Wyndham Park PS Principal.
For more information about the Wyndham Best Start program, or if you would like to be involved in the working groups or Partnership Group, please contact the Best Start Facilitator on 9742 0762 (Tuesday to Friday), email Wyndham.BestStart@wyndham.vic.gov.au.