Supported Playgroups Project

C4C, in partnership with Bendigo Community Health Service, run a number of supported playgroups at various venues across Bendigo. Supported playgroups are for families with children aged 0-5 and they encourage and support positive, fun interactions between families and their children, early childhood development and social connections. The playgroups are free to attend and morning tea is provided.

Aims of Project

  • Support the number of supported playgroups in the City of Greater Bendigo through supporting agencies to develop and maintain supported playgroups for vulnerable children and families.
  • Maintain current supported playgroups delivered by the current BCHS C4C project and Baptcare.

Rationale for Project

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in March 2012 completed an evaluation of supported playgroups in 14 locations across Victoria. The evaluation report titled ‘Supported Playgroups and Parent Groups Initiative (SPPI) Outcomes Evaluation’ highlighted the following:

  • Early childhood intervention programs, especially those like the SPPI that address social exclusion and disadvantage, have been shown to be more cost effective than interventions implemented at later stages, and more likely to reap positive community outcomes by increasing the wellbeing of families.
  • The key finding of the evaluation is that participation in a supported playgroup has a positive effect on parents social networks and supports, and as a result helps to build parents confidence and skills.
  • The benefits for children include stronger socialisation of children, emotional resilience and behavioural improvements.
  • Supported playgroup offers opportunities for new enriching experiences and stimulating activities, which are outside of the previous experience of many families.

As highlighted in the DEECD evaluation the supported playgroup model has been recognised as an important early intervention program and has clear benefits for children and families. Evidence also highlights that the most disadvantaged children are most likely to benefit from playgroup participation.

The State of Bendigo Children’s Report (SOBCR) 2013 highlights the importance of community run and supported playgroups. The SOBCR states “Playgroups promote a child’s development, build community connections and provide information and support to parents. Children’s involvement in playgroups (and other quality early years programs) are linked to future educational attainment”. The number of both community run and supported playgroups is one of the 20 indicators in the SOBCR that highlight the community’s response to supporting children’s wellbeing in the City of Greater Bendigo. Whilst there has been an increase in the number of known community run playgroups in the past 2 years there are only three known supported playgroups in Greater Bendigo. BCHS has operated two supported playgroups for the past 2 years as part of their C4C project and Baptcare has also operated a supported playgroup.

Given the value of supported playgroups there is a need to increase the number of supported playgroups as well as maintaining existing groups.

Project outcomes

  • Increase the number of supported playgroups in the City of Greater Bendigo.
  • Maintain and enhance existing playgroups.
  • Support to families to assist children to meet their developmental milestones.
  • Enhancement of parent’s skills and confidence to support their child’s development.
  • Parents are able to access and participate in positive experiences and provide positive life experiences for their children.
  • Early identification and intervention which may include referral to appropriate services.

Project Actions

  • Develop resources that support the development of supported playgroups by other agencies and community groups.
  • Build linkages and partnerships with early childhood providers and family service agencies with the view to developing further supported playgroups in Greater Bendigo.
  • Provide support, professional development and ongoing consultation to other agencies who are developing supported playgroups.
  • Delivery of supported playgroups facilitated by professionals with relevant qualifications and guided/supported by a qualified early childhood professional.
  • Maintain existing playgroups including:
    • The provision of developmentally appropriate learning opportunities to young children delivered by a qualified early childhood development professional.
    • Supporting families and their children to navigate the service system and to confidently access child and adult focussed support services.

If you would like to find out more or get involved, please contact:

Linda Lynch

Supported Playgroup Coordinator/Mentor

(03) 5438-1300 (Catholic Care)

Linda.Lynch@ccds.org.au