About the Centre
Located in Ballarat, the Early Childhood Parenting Centre provides a number of services focused on families with very young children. There is growing research and information about the importance of the first five years of life for healthy brain development, good mental health in the future and positive development and attachment.
Parenting Assessment and Skill Development Services (PASDS)
Referrals are received from the child protection program that operates across the Central Highlands area. Services are provided either in families’ homes or at the residential facility. The focus of PASDS is to provide an assessment of the parenting capacity within the family to DHHS, and to assist families develop skills required for them to maintain the safety and wellbeing of their very young children.
Access to Early Learning
The Access to Early Learning program offers free kindergarten and focused education support to 16 vulnerable three-year-old children who would not have been able to ordinarily access preschool. Staff in the program work intensively with families at home and with staff in kindergartens to ensure that children are able to fully engage in this critical year before school. The program also offers professional development for staff working in kindergartens on topics such as childhood trauma and attachment.
Circle of Security
Circle of Security (COS) is an international parent education program developed in the United States, which CAFS has trained some of its Family Services staff to deliver. Quoting Circle of Security International, the program “uses examples of secure and problematic parent/child interaction in the zero to five age range, healthy options in caregiving, and animated graphics designed to clarify principles central to COS®. Circle of Security Parenting© implements decades of attachment research in an accessible step-by-step process for use in group settings, home visitation, or individual counselling (Circle of Security International).
Growing Together is another program run by Family Services that is focused on supporting parents with an intellectual disability to care for their preschool children.
Transition to School
Now in its seventh year, the Transition to School program has assisted vulnerable preschool children to prepare for primary school. With the aid of dedicated volunteers who have extensive experience in the education field, children and their parents are supported in the months before school starts to ensure their new school experiences are positive ones. The program also offers children the opportunity to undertake swimming lessons in January of each year.
The Day Stay program offers parents with infants the opportunity to be supported in learning about sleep, settling, feeding and the importance of strong attachments to their young children. This is a very popular service which often has a lengthy waiting list. We hope to soon expand this service to include home visiting and follow-up to centre-based programs.
Early Childhood Development Program
The Early Childhood Development program is dedicated to improving vulnerable children’s participation in universal services such as kindergarten, maternal and child health services or child care. The program continues to grow through the development of strong professional links and collaboration with service providers in the Central Highlands area including local government, Indigenous services, family services and the state government’s child protection and family services programs.