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Offering children the best possible start in life

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Knowing her son is in safe hands and learning the skills he will need for school and life beyond is crucial for five-year-old Oliver’s mother Olivera.

The single mum of three sends her son to Goodstart Jindi Kindergarten and Extended Care, thanks to the help of the Early Learning Fund (ELF).

And in just a few months, the shy little boy who was busy trying to ensure he would be accepted by his friends is a confident, successful child looking forward to going to school.

“Everything’s just changing,” Olivera said. “In the mornings now, he wakes up and asks if he’s going to Kindy today. If it’s a yes, he’s happy,” she said.

The Early Learning 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.

Parents of ELF recipients pay as little as $5 per week to attend Goodstart two days a week. Children who are targeted by ELF are those who may be experiencing hardship, those who are vulnerable or perhaps those who are refugees.

An initiative of Goodstart and The Benevolent Society, the fund aims to look after children who have exhausted all other fee relief.

Jindi early childhood teacher Andrea said took great pride in being able to help children, like Oliver, on their path in life, and help shape the future of Australia.

“As educators we stepped in to try to help Oliver acquire more social skills to extend on his vocabulary, gain new words and basically to communicate with confidence,” Andrea said. “I feel awesome watching Oliver because he’s now one of the most confident, successful young children ready to take on the next challenge of school.”

She said the aim of ELF was to ensure every child had access to the best possible education.

“The first five years are when the brain develops to roughly 85 per cent of its full capacity. So, when they access this early learning I feel the brain is growing, it’s being stimulated. There are people struggling with finances, with illness, with a chaotic family life.

“There are many situations families have to face daily and they are not in a position to finance their child’s early learning. So that’s where the Early Learning Fund comes in,” she said.

“What we are actually doing is getting them socially and emotionally ready to acquire the skills they need for life and school.

“We get the positive feedback because parents can see a change straight away. For me, that’s the best thing you can ever do. We are shaping the future of Australia.”

Mum Olivera said the financial help she was receiving was a big help for her and her family.

“I just want to say thanks to the people who donate to this fund. If I have the opportunity to help others and donate to them I will do it.” Olivera said.
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