“I got a call from the Department of Health and Safety after hours who said I had to go to court to get my kids out of foster care,” Jack explains. “So, I ended up going to court and later that day they were put into my care.”
It was a life-changing moment for Jack and his daughter Jazz, who now attend Goodstart Braybrook, Victoria, largely thanks to help from the Early Learning Fund.
As a recipient of the Early Learning Fund (ELF), Jazz attends the centre two days a week for as little as $5. The fund was set up by Goodstart Early Learning and The Benevolent Society to ensure children who need a little more help get access to quality early learning.
Jack says the changes in his little girl were just about immediate.
“Because she was going a couple of days a week, there was major improvement in her speaking and the way she can talk about things,” Jack said.
“And being able to handle her emotions and playing with other kids.
“I reckon it’s (the fund) a brilliant idea because it could help out a lot more people and a lot more kids and get them into being able to be ready for school when they need to be.”
Braybrook centre director Angela Prenga said Jazz’s attendance at the centre through ELF had resulted in huge benefits.
“Upon entering the kindergarten room picking up additional days we saw the opportunity to help Jazz build up her skills in all developmental areas, especially her social and emotional wellbeing,” Angela said.
“Jazz was unable to self-regulate or understand her emotions causing multiple outbursts and challenging behaviours. ELF funding and wellbeing plans have helped educators, Jack, her dad, and Jazz work together, build strong relationships and plan goals for Jazz to achieve throughout the year.”
Angela said being able to help families who may otherwise not access early learning had been an amazing experience for the centre, the family and Jazz’s educators.
“It’s an amazing outcome. I think for me giving families and children the opportunity to have access to quality early learning is just an amazing social aspect and I really love being a part of Goodstart which offers this.”
Braybrook educator Miss Aggie said the fund allowed her to work with parents as well as educators, ensuring the focus was on the child.
“It means a lot to me and it makes me so excited and happy that I am doing a good job and I know these kids are thriving and parents are obviously working very hard and we’re working as a team,” Miss Aggie said.
“It’s all about teamwork – we’re working collaboratively together with parents because our focus is the children.”
Goodstart Early Learning employees are able to contribute to the Early Learning Fund through the Giving@Goodstart program.