Goodstart EChO network expands
Goodstart has expanded its network of EChO centres from 30 to 40 communities to enhance learning, development and wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable children, along with supporting their families and building their communities.
Enhancing Children’s Outcomes (EChO) centres are in communities where there is a high number of children who are developmentally vulnerable.
Social inclusion national lead Penny Markham said EChO centres represented a unique service model to address vulnerability.
“We know that children living in disadvantaged circumstances benefit the most from quality early learning, giving them the best chance to achieve learning, development and wellbeing outcomes they need for school and life,” Penny said.
“EChO centres offer enhanced services over and above the universal base of education and care.
“Services include additional teachers, child and family practitioners, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and social inclusion coordinators.
“They also offer playgroups, visits from service providers, food rescue and re-distribution, referral and support in the local community and scholarships for eligible children.”
Services in each EChO centre differ to meet the individual and unique needs of the community.
Goodstart Harristown in the regional city of Toowoomba became an EChO centre in June 2016. Employees received specialist training in areas such as speech pathology and occupational therapy and on-the-job coaching on how to apply these disciplines in practical ways to support children’s individual needs.
Early childhood teacher Jane Whitney said in the kindergarten program last year, 30 of the 40 children were classed as at-risk.
“We work really hard to improve the outcomes of these children by supporting their language development and managing their emotions even before they get to kindergarten,” Jane said.
“We found by focussing this work on the pre-kindergarten children they are better prepared for kindergarten which means we can spend more time focussing on getting them ready to be successful at \school.”
Goodstart aims to grow the EChO network to 50 within five years.