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Community connections program an award winner

Goodstart centres

Creating a familiar pathway for all children, from home to early learning to school, is the aim of Goodstart Plumpton’s innovative community program.

The program, which included a forging a relationship with an existing community group and setting up a new one at a local school, has won the Community Connections category in the 2018 National Goodies Awards.

The Goodies aim to recognise excellence at Goodstart Early Learning and showcase the best practice and commitment to delivering high quality early learning for children.

Described as “building a community culture of support”, the team at Plumpton were committed to supporting the needs of families and community members.

They collaborated with a primary school to form a community playgroup to support families and joined with community group I am Community to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for children and their families.

In her nomination, centre director Susan O’Keeffe said the aim of the program was to bring families and the community together and to build a support network for carers.

“We wanted to see the burden eased on families,” Ms O’Keeffe said. “Our community is diverse with varying needs but we believed that these two initiatives would support all families in accessing support networks and easing financial burdens and stress.”

So far, the community playgroup has grown from five families to 20 families in two months. The I am Community collaboration has seen many families take up the offer of fresh fruit and vegetables, for a gold coin donation.

“At the playgroup, children who may not have had access to peers their own age now have the opportunity to engage with others and grow in a space with their family and new friends,” Ms O’Keeffe said.

“Our work with I am Community has supported another not-for-profit organisation in our community and formed a partnership that is driven and focused on working with and supporting our most vulnerable community members.”

The state judges said the programs saw the centre reach out to the community on two levels.

“The playgroup has bridged the gap between home, early learning centres and primary schools,” they said.

“The result of quadrupling numbers in such a short period of time shows they obviously needed this within the community, and families are welcoming the support.”
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