But despite a huge national network, this early learning provider is far from being the cookie-cutter corporate chain that some might expect.
Goodstart is, in fact, a large scale not-for-profit driven by social purpose, and a passion to contribute to the local communities within which it operates. Every Goodstart Early Learning centre is unique.
From Sydney, to the Goldfields in Western Australia, to Bees Creek in the Top End, down to Hobart, its centres mirror the cultures of the children and families that attend them.
Myra Geddes, Goodstart’s General Manager, Early Learning and Social Impact explains, “The connection to local community not only creates a strong sense of belonging for children and families, it also significantly improves a child’s learning and development outcomes.”
“Our centres work hard to bring diversity to life, from creating partnerships with local Aboriginal elders and culturally diverse groups, to tapping into the amazing knowledge, languages and customs of the centre teams and families,” she said.
Even Goodstart’s customer feedback surveys are available in 12 languages other than English.
Perhaps the most impactful community connections that Goodstart has is in some of Australia’s more vulnerable communities, such as Mernda in Victoria.
Partnerships to support vulnerable communities
A unique partnership between Goodstart Early Learning, Brotherhood of St Laurence and the City of Whittlesea, with support from Plenty Valley Community Health, led to the opening of Jindi Kindergarten and Extended Care Centre in 2015.
The centre was established in a rapidly growing suburb with few services, amenities and opportunities for community connections. Additional underlying stress factors such as financial hardship and family violence led to a critical need to provide child and family support services in a more innovative way.
The award-winning centre has developed strong community connections, linking services and offering a range of early intervention programs for children and their families, with a particular focus on supporting those most vulnerable.
In addition to the range of community and cultural programs running within Goodstart centres, children attending Goodstart also have regular opportunities to engage with the community on excursions.
Encouraging children to become active citizens
At Bondi Junction, in Sydney’s inner-east, Goodstart has three early learning centres within the Westfield shopping complex.
The huge retail haven plays host to the children’s regular excursions, including to the supermarket with the centre’s onsite cook, to select and purchase the centre’s food for the day.
Even the youngest children have the opportunity to go on excursions, with the introduction of the new six-seater prams that Goodstart has purchased.
Why is community engagement important for children?
- It helps children develop their own sense of identity
- It builds their confidence and develops their social-emotional skills
- It helps children understand how society works
- Children thrive in an environment with a variety of mutually supportive and caring relationships