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Goodstart’s Early Learning Fund success

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Goodstart is proud to have supported more than 900 children throughout 2022 through the Early Learning Fund who would otherwise miss out on vital early learning. 


The Early Learning Fund is a partnership between GoodstartThe Benevolent Society and Uniting (NSW/ACT) and provides fee-relief to eligible children to attend at least two days of early learning each week in the two years before school. 


Penny Markham, National Lead Social Inclusion, said she was proud to be part of an organisation that cares so much about creating equity of opportunity for children across the nation.  


There are thousands of children experiencing significant vulnerability who are missing out on vital access to early learning across Australia because of their family and life circumstances,” Penny said. 


This puts them at a disadvantage early in life and was the driver for the establishment of the Early Learning Fund which removes cost as a barrier for families. 


Started in 2015, the Fund has supported thousands of children attending both Uniting and Goodstart Early Learning centres, thanks to philanthropic and corporate funding and Goodstart’s workplace giving program, Giving@Goodstart. 


“Over 2022 an incredible $240,000 was donated from our generous Goodstarters through our workplace giving program, Giving@Goodstart – 30% increase on 2021.” 


“We also welcomed the start of two-year partnership with our landlord Charter Hall to fund fee-relief for at least 55 children, and received other generous donations from our corporate partners. 


The impact of these donations made 2022 a record year of fundraising, and together with other philanthropic fundingthe Early Learning Fund can support up to 1000 children again in 2023. 


Each eligible child receives fee-relief to access at least two days of early learning each week at their local Goodstart or Uniting (NSW) centre. 


Eligible children include those at risk of abuse or neglect, living in hardship, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and refugee and humanitarian entrants. 


Penny said there was great news celebrated over 2022 from positive government announcements for investment in early learning along with the evaluation of the Early Learning Fund which reaffirmed with statistically significant results the difference access to early learning makes to children particularly those experiencing vulnerability. 


“We know all children benefit from early learning but none more so than children experiencing vulnerability, and our evaluation is showing the valuable impact access to early learning has for both children and their families,” Penny said. 


The other great news is that after years of advocating for all children to have access to high quality, affordable early learning, governments at both a state and federal level are now responding. 


“The Early Learning Fund still remains vitally important, but it is encouraging that we’re making great strides in Australia to one day ensure that all children can benefit from early learning.” 


Some quick facts about the Early Learning Fund: 


  • 100% of the families in the Early Learning Fund are experiencing financial hardship – living below the poverty line 

  • Over 2022 230 children identified as First Nations and 16 refugee and humanitarian entrants were supported (our highest number ever) 

  • More than 165 children were considered to be at risk of abuse or neglect  

  • More than 390 children are living in regional areas  

  • For more than 190 children, 2022 was their second year of fee relief  


Hear how the Early Learning Fund has been life-changing for two families:

Brianna's Story

The Early Learning Fund has been life-changing for Brianna, a single First Nations mother who relocated from Peak Hill to Brisbane to break the cycle of vulnerability and create a better life for three-year-old Kayde. Not only was Brianna able to gain employment, she has also been able to increase her work hours and improve their financial security to save for their first home. While at the same time, Kayde is “thriving” in the words of his mother thanks to early learning.  

Lauren's Story

ELF’s fee-relief meant three-year-old Layla continued accessing two days of early learning each week after both of her parents lost their jobs due to COVID-19. In her mother's words, they 'hit rock bottom' and it became a crisis situation of whether to pay fees ‘today’ or put food on the family table ‘tomorrow’. Sadly, Layla's story is not a unique one. This is why ELF continues to have a very important role to play when government assistance runs out


Learn more about the Early Learning Fund here and if you’re interested in donating – reach out to corpaffairs@goodstart.org.au. 

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