Early Years pro­gram to aid fam­i­lies

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Saskia Adysti

One in five Western Aus­tralian chil­dren is de­vel­op­men­tally vul­ner­a­ble.

Great South­ern com­mu­ni­ties will ben­e­fit from a first-of-its-kind 10year pro­gram aimed at im­prov­ing early child­hood learn­ing de­vel­op­ment.

An­nounced to­day as the first of four lo­ca­tions in WA— Katan­ning, Broome­hill-Tam­bellup, Ko­jonup and Gnowangerup — are the first com­mu­ni­ties se­lected to be a part of the Early Years Ini­tia­tive pro­gram.

EYI board co-chair­woman Dr Sue Gor­don said sci­en­tific re­search had shown the first four years of a child’s life were crit­i­cal for their fu­ture learn­ing de­vel­op­ment.

“The Early Years Ini­tia­tive will change the way gov­ern­ment agen­cies work with our com­mu­ni­ties to achieve real change in the health, learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment of chil­dren aged four years and un­der,” she said.

To gov­ern the pro­gram, the EYI board will es­tab­lish com­mu­nity groups to run the pro­gram and make de­ci­sions for their com­mu­ni­ties.

Si­mone McGurk

A re­search and ev­i­dence group will also pro­vide re­search and ad­vice to com­mu­nity groups.

Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter Si­mone McGurk said the ex­pe­ri­ences in a child’s early years were crit­i­cal to set them up for a happy, healthy and pro­duc­tive life.

“One in five Western Aus­tralian chil­dren is de­vel­op­men­tally vul­ner­a­ble,” she said.

“This ini­tia­tive demon­strates a gen­uine com­mit­ment to change how we sup­port fam­i­lies and im­prove the health and well­be­ing of chil­dren through their early years.”

The State Gov­ern­ment, Min­deroo Foun­da­tion and Telethon Kids In­sti­tute will meet bi­en­ni­ally to con­sider the progress of the EYI pro­gram.

The re­main­ing three lo­ca­tions will be an­nounced next year.

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