Sunday, October 09, 2011

yarra ranges early years award finalists

It's terrific to learn that two of Yarra Ranges early years projects have been selected as finalists for the Victorian Early Years Awards.

The awards are presented annually as part of the Children’s Week celebrations and the winners will be announced at a ceremony at the NGV on 24 October.

The two projects are:

Building Strong N Proud Pathways – Boorai Early Years Transition Program, Yarra Valley Community Health.
A need to encourage Aboriginal families to send their children to kindergarten to better prepare them for school prompted the Yarra Valley Community Health Service to establish an occasional care and transition program. The program for children from birth to five years old is free and culturally appropriate, breaking down two of the barriers which have previously deterred Aboriginal families from using early childhood services.

Developed following consultation with Yarra Ranges Council, Yarra Valley Aboriginal Health and Kinderlink,the program encourages early literacy, numeracy, social and language skills and benefits from parents contributing to stimulating cultural activities. Parents are provided with support and information about other services and are free to stay and enjoy lunch with their children. An estimated 92 Aboriginal children aged under four live in the Yarra Ranges Shire. The program has seen an increase in kindergarten enrolments from the community, from 14 in 2005 to 22 in 2010.

Wellness Connections: Promoting Infant Outcomes at the Interface, Yarra Ranges Council
Yarra Ranges Council services a young demographic, with children under the age of five making up 12.8 percent of the residents living in both urban and rural areas. It was also a population in which post natal depression consistently ranked in the top three mental health issues for the shire – a statistic which prompted the council to look beyond its existing early childhood services for a way to improve the situation.

A Maternal Infant Mental Health program was created providing counselling, group work and interventions to help individuals cope better and develop new skills to help them enjoy their parenting experience. A partnership including the Eastern Ranges GP Association, individual health professionals, government funded early childhood initiatives and the Austin Hospital now ensures well targeted planning and comprehensive support through in-home consultations, a day stay program, therapy and supported playgroups.

Congratulations to our early years team for your innovation when it comes to dealing with the early years issues in the interface, the nominations are well earned.

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