On Thursday, April 7, club members were treated to a powerful presentation by Rebecca Buchanan, the Director of Kindergartens in the Central Highland Shire. Rebecca shared with members the desperately needed strategies being planned and used by local Kindergartens and Pre-school centres to improve the literacy, learning and living skills of pre-schoolers, as well as the parenting skills of some parents. See "Read more..." for Rebecca's talk.
Thank you for the invitation to speak tonight. When Alison contacted me to speak we spoke about discussing children coming out of covid. I thought about this and I hope that it is ok if I just speak about the Goldfields Family centre and the services and projects that we are working on at the moment.
Goldfields family Centre is the hub for all child and family requirements.
We offer Long day care, Family Day care, kindergarten, supported playgroup, immunisation services and maternal child and health. We are a very happening and buzzing place to be.
Our kindergarten program is an integrated 3 and 4yo kindergarten program. We are have 63 children enrolled this year. 33 4yo's 30 3yo's. This year is our second year of delivering funded 3 yo.
The Victorian Government is investing $5 billion over the decade to deliver 15 hours of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten a week. This will be available in both standalone kindergartens and long day care (childcare) centres. This is the largest social, economic and educational reform in early childhood education in Victoria's history.  A child who has attended two years of a quality kindergarten program will, on average:
have better cognitive and social skills when they start school (including better development in language, pre-reading, early number concepts, non-verbal reasoning, independence, concentration and social skills) have higher exam scores at 16, including better grades in English and maths
have more developed social and emotional outcomes at age 16 be more likely to take more final year exams and to go on to higher academic study.
We have 2 family day care educators contracted with us currently. They are located within Maryborough and Avoca. Who are both at capacity.
Our long day service offers care to 63 children a day. We have 136 families enrolled within our long day care service. We employ around 42 educators. 
Our supported playgroup offers sessions for families 5 days a week. Supported Playgroups are initiated and led by a paid coordinator or facilitator. This role is often taken up by an agency worker or human service professional. These playgroups are for families that may require extra support. The professional leader is there to assist and help in a wide range of areas. It is at a supported playgroup that families can seek out advice, find information about support services and extend their social network. Our facilitators support 35 families within our LGA. - To read more select "Read More"
School Readiness Funding is extra support for early childhood education and care services delivering a funded kindergarten program to help children to get the most out of their early learning.

School Readiness Funding is a permanent and ongoing part of the Victorian kindergarten funding model. It funds a range of programs and supports that aim to build the capacity of services, educators and families to support children's learning and development.
Each year, approved providers are required to work with their Early Childhood Improvement Branch to develop a School Readiness Funding Plan for each of their services. These annual plans should use local and service-level data to determine the needs of each service. Approved providers are also required to complete a mid-year review and an end-of-year acquittal to confirm how the School Readiness Funding for each of their kindergarten services has been spent.
Services will spend most of their School Readiness Funding on items from the Menu of evidence-informed programs and supports (the Menu). Items on the Menu align with the three School Readiness Funding priority areas:
communication (language development)
wellbeing (social and emotional) and
access and inclusion.
The Menu includes a range of programs and supports that have been externally validated for how well they support children's learning and development. The Menu has been developed to help services make informed choices on how to spend their funding to improve outcomes for children. It includes:
programs and services that target speech, language and literacy
allied health supports (speech pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists)
programs and services that inform educators and families about trauma-informed practice, secure attachment and mental health
resources and programs to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of children
support for culturally and linguistically diverse children, and families
tools for parents to support their child's development.
Services will work directly with Menu providers to organise access to programs and supports. Allied health supports have been engaged by the department to ensure that services receiving School Readiness Funding have access to high quality allied health services, including but not limited to speech pathologists and occupational therapists. Allied health professionals work in collaboration with educators and families, with the goal of improving outcomes for children in one or more of the three School Readiness Funding priority areas. 
This year we are implementing a program called 3a - Abecedarian Approach Australia. 3a is a set of evidence-based teaching and learning strategies for early childhood educators and parents to use with children from birth to five. Research has shown that 3a delivers enhanced educational outcomes by enriching and enhancing educator practice - both before and after a child starts school. 3a is a set of evidence-based teaching and learning strategies for early childhood educators and parents to use with children from birth to five. The training is with Melb Uni. Language priority  - A commitment to make every experience an opportunity for talking, listening, and learning language. Learning Games - 200 experiences or games played between an adult and one or two children. Conversational Reading - Individual and pair reading that emphasises back and forth communication.  Enriched Caregiving - Intentionally adding educational content to the daily, repeated routines of care.

We are also implementing training with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy foundation. ALNF assist people who have difficulty reading and writing suffer from shame, poor self-esteem and negative life experiences. They also lack access to many opportunities that most of us take for granted. ALNF exists to help these people by raising literacy levels in Australia's most marginalised communities. Through six core programs and a number of one-off community projects, ALNF provides funding, training, support and resources to individuals, families and schools.
The Early Language & Literacy (EL&L) Program equips educators, parents and community members with the knowledge and tools required to work with their own children to develop foundational language and literacy skills.
Training in direct, explicit instruction in pre-writing, pre-phonics, oral language and vocabulary development. Uniquely designed resources to complement and underpin the program. The program works primarily with urban, regional and remote communities that experience common challenges including health and developmental issues, trans-generational illiteracy and disengagement from education. These factors impact upon a child's ability to learn and engage with education. Adults in the community are provided with the requisite teaching tools, resources and strategies to mediate these issues and positively impact children's school readiness, engagement and attendance. The program's whole-of-community approach strengthens the ability of educators and community members to teach their own children fundamental literacy skills, while increasing the skillsets, capabilities and engagement of participating adults. By building the capacity of community members to teach pre-literacy skills, children achieve greater literacy and numeracy outcomes, since the capability to continue delivering this service remains with the communities. The project's purpose aligns with international and domestic evidence, which indicates that strong pre-phonics and early language/vocabulary skills are vital precursors for success in reading development and educational engagement.
Similar research identifies that a disparity exists upon school entry in the early language and literacy experiences between children raised in higher socioeconomic conditions and those in lower socioeconomic conditions. ALNF aim to close this gap, so all children are able to commence school ready to learn, regardless of socioeconomic status. The Early Language & Literacy program is also offered in both English and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Languages, with resources available in both digital and physical formats. The use of First Language with young children contributes to strong literacy growth in English, and aligns with international best practice in building strong oral language skills in the early years as a precursor for strong literacy and language development in the later years.

We are also looking at implementing a book gifting program to all the kindergarten children. Where we are hoping to give to all of our kindergarten children 2 books throughout the year. We are also hoping that we can record ourselves reading these books to assist the families with reading and adding expression and excitement into story telling. To also assist with this we have allied health support from MDHS speech pathologists.

Services that receive over $5,000 in School Readiness Funding will have a portion of their funding allocated to pre-purchased allied health sessions. Allied health professionals will work with services to support teachers/educators to address the needs and goals for children and their families identified in their SRF plan. services may choose to partner, or pool funding with other services to access programs and supports of shared interest. Pooling funding may help services to: access programs or supports that are beyond the reach of a single provider's allocation, yet are identified as a collective need by multiple services in a local area support a larger community-focused initiative that needs sustained support to result in long-term practice change strengthen links with local providers and education settings (including primary schools), enabling a more collaborative approach to identifying and meeting the needs of children and families in the local community. This is where we have pooled some of our funds with the YMCA kindergartens in our LGA - which is AG Leech, TL Stone, Cal Gully, Dunolly, Talbot and Roseberry House to create the "Transition for Foundation made easy" project.
Project Objectives
*       Develop and embed a Central Goldfields shire wide approach that supports children and their families transitioning from kinder to school 
*       Build strong relationships and foster increased understanding between early years educators and prep teachers
*       Intentionally support every child transitioning from kinder to prep to ensure all supports for the child and families are in place before beginning school
*       Ensure early, targeted and practical support for students and families experiencing barriers to regular school attendance  
*       Build a culture and understanding of everyday school attendance as 'the norm'

The concepts that we are working on are
Professional collaboration, Enhanced information exchange, Respect for the information shared in the transition statements, Strength-based approaches, School readiness with children and families, Creating a community of practice.
This is where we would love to have the Rotary be apart of this project. We would like to hold an evening late November where we are inviting all the foundation teachers (prep) to meet with the Kindergarten teachers to discuss the group of children that will be in attendance within their class. We would love to have rotary host and provide a meal for the teachers and to be apart of the community of practice and change within our community. I hope that we can continue to have these discussions and continue to work together to assist our Maryborough community.
Thank you for your time. I am more than happy to answer anymore questions that you may have at anytime.