Off To An Early Start Project

OTAES is a mentor program supporting children and families to participate in playgroup and/or preschool. The program has a strong focus on building parents/carer’s connections to early learning opportunities (and to other universal services), building parent-child attachment and supporting parents in their role as their child’s ‘first teacher’.

Aims of Project

  • To enable children’s access to playgroups and pre-school through supporting families whose children do not or irregularly attend early years programs, pre-school and primary school.
  • To educate families on the need for and the importance of early years learning for pre-school children

Rationale for Project

The C4C forums and consultations with C4C partners over the past twelve months have highlighted that access to universal services and early learning opportunities is a key issue to be addressed in our support of vulnerable children and families. It is well recognised that participation in universal services and early learning programs is a key protective factor for children and creates opportunities for early childhood development and parenting skill development. The C4C forums and consultations have also identified that more needs to be done to ensure greater numbers of vulnerable families are able to access universal services and early learning.

It has also been recognised that the Off To An Early Start(OTAES) program has been a highly effective program in promoting children’s access to early learning opportunities. The OTAES program has been a C4C program over the past 4 years. OTAES is a mentor program supporting children and families’ participation in playgroup and/or preschool to develop sustainable practice within families that supports children’s participation at primary school. The OTAES model is based on practically supporting families through the practice of preparing and getting children to playgroup and preschool. The key focus is on providing direct assistance to families through active and intensive in home support that guides, educates and supports families through the practice of preparing and getting children to playgroup and preschool on time and on a regular daily basis.

Project outcomes

  • Provision of practical support to vulnerable families where there is a risk that children are not being linked to early learning programs and opportunities.
  • Parents have the skills, understanding and confidence to support their child’s development.
  • Families feel more confident to navigate the playgroup, preschool and primary school networks including completing enrolment procedures and attending orientation days.
  • Parents embed family routines that enable children to participate in learning activities on a regular basis.
  • Parents support children’s learning through stories and reading with children.
  • Families are more aware of and able to access other services to support the learning, health and wellbeing of all family members.

Project Actions

  • Undertaking home visits to assess the needs and resources required for each family.
  • Educating parents on the importance of early years learning for preschool children.
  • Providing parenting information and/or referrals to family and community support services.
  • Supporting children’s learning and assisting school aged children who have never or irregularly attend primary school to do so on a regular basis.
  • Focus on working with families to break down real and perceived barriers to early learning programs and services.
  • Build parental confidence through their involvement in the running of playgroups and being involved in preschool activities.

For more information please contact:

Linda Robertson or Pam Mott
Off to An Early Start |  City of Greater Bendigo
p: (03) 44086590
National Relay Service 133677 then quote 5434 6195
Linda Robertson
e: l.robertson@Bendigo.vic.gov.au
Pam Mott
e: p.mott@Bendigo.vic.gov.au