(goodbeginnings.net.au is under new management, this article previously appeared on the old website and was not written by the new site owners.)
Good Beginnings programs operate in every state and territory in Australia.
All programs are externally evaluated and are based around the Five Program Pillars:
- Child focused community development: Projects that support child focused capacity building within the community
- Universal supported groups: A wide range of play-based, support or educational groups that help build self esteem for all family members and enhance relationships between parents and their children
- Volunteer Family Support: A service for parents of young children, where the family is partnered with a trained and locally supervised volunteer, who is usually a parent themselves
- Targeted supported groups: A suite of structured group programs for families and young children with complex needs, facilitated by at least two professional staff members as well as trained volunteers
- Intensive Family Support: Programs that provide professional support and parenting intervention to families with complex needs over an extended period of time..
Good Beginnings’ suite of programs also constitute a continuum of services. Depending on the range of services offered at each site, parents can transition from one to another depending on their needs.
Early Years Centres – Overview
Early Years Centres (EYCs) are community based sites that provide a range of support, information, advocacy and referral services from a central location. EYCs use an integrated—or ‘one stop shop’—model of practice, which offers families with young children a selection of services, typically including:
- universal supported groups
- volunteer family support
- intensive family support
- dads programs
- advice, referral and information services.
The overall aim of EYCs is to improve childhood outcomes by providing services that are supportive and easily accessible as well as responsive to family and community needs.
EYCs focus on providing families with opportunities to form relationships with other families, while interacting in a variety of appropriate activities and sessions. By collaborating closely with other service providers and community organisations, Good Beginnings is able to provide comprehensive support to families with young children, thereby encouraging a holistic community experience.
Good Beginnings has more than ten years’ experience in delivering hub-style Early Years Centres in some of the most concentrated areas of disadvantage in Australia
The Connect Approach
The Connect Approach underpins all Good Beginnings programs. It acknowledges that every community benefits from identifying its own needs and solutions, and therefore encourages communities to make their own decisions about their local Good Beginnings programs.
Since its inception, Good Beginnings has recognised that not all families and communities are ready for structured programs. Rather, they need support to first identify their needs, so that programs can be specifically developed to meet those needs, using existing resources and community strengths. The Connect Approach embodies these understandings.
The Connect Approach also recognises the particular complexity of issues faced by indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and seeks to find an effective way of working in partnership with those individuals and communities. To this end, the Connect Approach is culturally sensitive and inclusive of specific cultural practices. The Connect Approach is thus strengths-based, empowering, family-centred and solution-focused.
Furthermore, the Connect Approach is based on the following principles:
- Children, families and communities are part of an ecological system influenced by social, economic, physical and cultural factors
- Early intervention and prevention activities are the most effective ways of supporting children, families and communities
- Building on strengths, existing knowledge and skills of children, families and local communities respects dignity, capacity, rights, uniqueness and commonalities
- Planning and development based on needs identified by local communities minimises intervention, maximises local solutions, provides independence, increases participation, strengthens local networks and encourages collective responses
- Families and communities need to be empowered to solve their own problems.