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Innovative extras give family life a boost

Goodstart centres

New initiatives like first aid courses, breakfast for parents, date nights, extended opening hours and partnerships with local charities have helped Goodstart Hughesdale connect with families and create a happy and cohesive culture. 

Working closely with families to provide tailored initiatives and services has resulted in happier children and parents and more engaged staff at Goodstart Hughesdale in Melbourne, said centre director Jess Flahive. 

 “By working really closely with our families to create different family partnerships, and by taking the initiative and implementing new things, we have not only strengthened our relationships and partnerships with our families, we have also created such an amazing culture throughout the centre,” she said. 

She said family and staff feedback also suggested a much happier and more engaged group of educators. 

“Really listening to our families and asking them what they want has helped us design a program of tailored initiatives,” she said. 

Some of the recent initiatives include: 
  • Date nights
“Date nights have been a massive hit as we have a lot of single parent families in our area, and also a lot of multicultural families living away from extended family, so date nights are a really helpful initiative for our parents.” 
  • Breakfasts for parents
“We introduced an opportunity for parents to sit down and eat breakfast with the children and we didn’t have much uptake.  We realised parents are in such a rush that they don’t have time to stop and eat.  We adjusted this to be a take-away breakfast station for the parents and it’s a hit.”
  • Extended opening hours
“A lot of our families work in the city, so the later opening times mean it is a bit less stressful for them to commute home from the city and be here in time.”
Other initiatives include: 
  • Tailored first aid sessions for parents.
  • Mobile health services including dentist and GP visits.
  • Play dates for families with children not currently enrolled in early learning service.
  • A partnership with the Father Bob Foundation helping provide food to the homeless. 
“A lot of the children within our service are the third and fourth in their families, so their parents have been with us for five to seven years and their feedback is that they have never seen our educators so happy and engaged and they have never felt more at home within our service,” Ms Flahive said.  

As a result of the new initiatives Ms Flahive said Goodstart Hughesdale had increased its occupancy by 30 per cent and the majority of its families have said they would recommend the service to other people. 

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