Goodstart’s Early Learning Fund will support fee relief for 1,000 families this year
This year, up to 1,000 children and their families attending Goodstart Early Learning services will receive fee-relief for a minimum of two days of early learning and care every week, thanks to the Early Learning Fund.
They join hundreds more children attending Uniting centres who will receive support from the Early Learning Fund, which aims to enable every child to have a better future.
In place since 2016, the Early Learning Fund offers families support with the costs of accessing education and care, as well as other ‘wrap-around’ services in addition to fee relief. The fund was borne from Goodstart educators identifying a safety net was needed to ensure no child missed out on vital early learning and care.
“Not all of Australia’s children get the government help they need to attend early learning,” Goodstart National Social Inclusion Lead Penny Markham said.
“While there are government programs to assist in the short-term, each year many thousands of children miss out on the opportunity to continue with early learning when this support ends. The Early Learning Fund was created to solve this problem.”
Supporting more than 1,700 children from Goodstart and Uniting services over the past five years, the Fund actively supports those experiencing sudden hardship, children from refugee families and those who are vulnerable, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
“The key barriers that prevent these children from participating are the cost of fees, and non–cost barriers such as transport, cultural factors, and complex family circumstances,” Ms Markham explained.
“Evidence tells us that children from the four cohorts that the Fund targets begin school behind their peers, with delays in language, social and behavioural skills.”
“Access to high quality early learning programs in the two years before school is linked to improved outcomes in school and life.”
“This is why the Early Learning Fund is life-changing – by ensuring these vulnerable children are participating in high quality early learning programs during the most vital window of their development, from ages three to five years, to help launch them into school and life.”
Children and families who may be eligible for support in 2021 are currently being identified, with many children from last year continuing to receive a second year of support.
The Early Learning Fund is overseen and managed by The Benevolent Society with program partners Goodstart and Uniting identifying and offering support to eligible children.
Many Goodstart employees generously donate via their regular pay to the Early Learning Fund via a workplace giving program, [email protected].
Further information about the program is available here.