Below are just six of their stories about children who are benefiting from Early Learning Fund (ELF) support. Stories about improved child development and safety and stories about a small amount of support keeping families together and helping them to thrive.
Chloe was in her dad’s care when her mother took her from pre-school and disappeared for three weeks. After Chloe was found, her father gained custody and moved her to a new centre as a protection strategy.
At the time of enrolment, Chloe’s father was unemployed and needed Chloe to attend long day care while he looked for work. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a job and approached the Centre Director, distressed about having to take Chloe out of the centre.
While he was initially able to access Federal Government fee relief, once it ran out Chloe was still able to stay in care thanks to an ELF scholarship. Chloe regularly attends two days per week but would otherwise have had no access to pre-school which would have unfairly disadvantaged her transition to school.
Blake lives with his mum and two-year-old sister. He’s been diagnosed with autism and his mum was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. With the support of the Early Learning Fund, Blake has increased his days at his ELF centre from two to three each week. His mum has also been able to increase speech therapy sessions, which they conduct at the centre, from one to two per week.
Increasing Blake’s attendance has supported his relationships with other children to the point that he now engages in small group play. Importantly, regular attendance provides Blake with a consistent, weekly routine. The educators and his mum have noticed Blake’s comprehension and language skills have improved noticeably and frequently comment on how well he’s doing.
The additional days have also supported his mum by providing respite. She’s now better able to manage her own mental health. The centre attributes this change to the Early Learning Fund helping the family with the cost of care, and providing priceless support.
Pippa was referred to an ELF Centre by child protection, who were very concerned about her safety. At first, Pippa’s mum received Government assistance to attend the centre. When the funding ended, Pippa’s mum told the Centre Director she’d have to leave because she couldn’t afford the cost of care. The Centre Director was very worried about Pippa’s safety, as well as her ongoing learning and preparation for school if she stopped attending.
As a result, Pippa’s mum was offered assistance from ELF. What a relief. Pippa can stay in a safe environment while she continues to develop her confidence and social skills for her transition to school. Her mum is also receiving support from the Centre team to help build her parenting skills.
Michael has been hospitalised frequently due to health issues. He’s been attending his ELF centre since he was a baby but his mum, who also has serious health issues, struggles financially. Having a highly supportive and caring early learning centre for Michael has given her the chance to focus on her own health (physical and mental), while knowing Michael is getting high-quality care.
Michael has built safe and nurturing relationships with the educators in his room, which is important in any child’s life, but particularly so for chronically ill children who are chronically unwell. While the cost of care was becoming unmanageable, Michael’s mum was also worried about disrupting his friendships and learning. She was desperate for an alternative when she was offered a scholarship from the Early Learning Fund. It was the answer to her prayers. It means that Michael can stay connected to his safe place and get every opportunity he can to thrive.
Evie’s father died three years ago. It’s hard to believe that life could get tougher. But it did. Evie is the youngest of four children and following her father’s death, her mum experienced depression and became addicted to narcotics. Eventually, Evie and her siblings were placed in the care of their paternal aunt, which only lasted a few months before they moved to the care of their grandmother. During this time there were attempts to have the children returned to their mother’s care through careful visitations and extended time as a family. Unfortunately, these attempts didn’t work and Evie and one of her sisters were separated from their siblings and placed in a foster home. Eventually, Evie and all of her siblings were placed back together in the care of an aunt.
Throughout all of the changes in Evie’s short life, the one constant has been attending her ELF centre. At first, Evie received Government fee relief, however, when this ended, an offer of assistance from ELF meant she could stay on at her centre.
For Evie, the consistency of preschool attendance in her otherwise chaotic world has helped her to develop trusting relationships with educators and to make and maintain friends. This is something she would have lost without the ongoing connection to the ELF centre. Evie is continuing to develop her confidence and her social skills and looking forward to starting school.
Daniel’s mum came to an ELF centre worried about his language skills but couldn’t afford early learning because she’s raising three children on her own. As soon as she approached the Centre Director it was clear Daniel would qualify for the Early Learning Fund. The Centre Director was able to enrol Daniel for two days per week with a scholarship from the Early Learning Fund.
His mum was worried about how difficult it was for Daniel to be understood and, consequently, to make friends. She also wanted Daniel to be able to build positive connections with his Aboriginal culture, which she’d heard was a focus at the ELF centre.
Daniel still has some difficulty being understood but coming to preschool regularly, means he’s been able to make friends and develop good relationships with his teachers. His mum has also benefitted from the positive relationship with the ELF centre team, which recently supported her through a very difficult family situation.