ACT Government commits to first 1,000 days strategy to boost early life outcomes
The Sector > Policy > ACT Government commits to first 1,000 days strategy to boost early life outcomes

ACT Government commits to first 1,000 days strategy to boost early life outcomes

by Freya Lucas

November 07, 2022

The ACT Government has announced a new initiative which will see service providers and community partners working together to ensure all the Territory’s children can reach their full potential. 


The Best Start for Canberra’s Children: The First 1,000 Days Strategy (Best Start) was released on Friday, setting out the ACT Government’s vision for working with community and service partners to ensure early support for children and families.


“The first 1,000 days is a critical time for shaping children and setting them up for a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life,” said ACT Minister for Early Childhood Development Yvette Berry.


“If families are supported early, they are more likely to engage with services and will be better prepared in the lead up to school and beyond.” 


Developed with input from an Expert Reference Group and feedback from families, frontline workers, carers and community organisations, Best Start supports a more coordinated effort across government and the community to increase awareness of the importance of the first 1,000 days, added ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith.


“When designing Best Start we heard parents want holistic support and information to help them navigate through pregnancy, birth, and the early years. People also want continuity of care from services.”


Ultimately the Government hopes Best Start will enable parents to feel more confident, supported and connected and for services to be accessible for when children and families need them.


Best Start sits alongside the Maternity in Focus strategy and will be delivered in three phases. The first Action Plan will provide practical steps to deliver the strategy.


This includes improving access to playgroups and playschools for vulnerable families and building better connections between Maternity and Child Health and other early support services.


Child Development service will expand in support


Early intervention and support is especially critical for children who have developmental vulnerabilities or delays. The ACT Government will invest more than $7 million over the next four years to expand the Child Development Service.


“With this new funding, the service will hire an additional 14 allied health professionals to provide critical early intervention therapy services for families with children aged 24 to 36 months,” Minister Berry explained.


“Expanding the Child Development Service and providing therapeutic early intervention support will set children up for long-term health and wellbeing.”


The Child Development Service will continue to provide assessment, referral and information services to families and children from birth to six years of age, in addition to the new early intervention services.


Best Start and the expanded Child Development Service will support the wellbeing and development of children in their first 1,000 days, then up to 36 months for early intervention, before eligible families have the option of transitioning to quality early childhood education from age three.


This expanded service is due to start in 2023.


A copy of the Best Start strategy and interim action plan can be viewed in full here

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