An external evaluation of the Queensland Government’s Early Years Centre (EYC) initiative found the provision of integrated early childhood development services is delivering positive developmental, social and behaviour outcomes for children aged from birth to eight years, strengthening parenting skills and improving outcomes for vulnerable families. In addition, it reported the EYCs have helped to contribute to community inclusion, connections and supports.
The EYCs provide one-stop shops for families to access a range of early childhood education and care, family and parenting support, and maternal and child health services. EYC staff include family support workers, early childhood educators and child and maternal health specialists who work together to deliver holistic services for families with young children.
The evaluation found one of the strengths of the initiative is the EYCs’ success in developing partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services. This has helped them to engage the community and work with Elders to ensure services are culturally inclusive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
The EYCs use a range of evidence-based strategies to engage appropriately including non-centre-based services like outreach and home visiting, soft entry points through universal services, programs and activities adapted for different cultural groups, and the employment of specialist staff including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.
As new mums visiting the child health nurse for routine checks, attending playgroups or through referrals from schools, doctors, social workers or child care centres, each family has access to universal services. More targeted services are available for those with more complex needs.
The Department of Education, Training and Employment contracted Urbis Pty Ltd from December 2010 to October 2012 to undertake an evaluation of the EYC initiative.
EYCs are located at Browns Plains, Nerang, Caboolture and Cairns with satellite services at Acacia Ridge, Beaudesert, Deception Bay, Morayfield, Narangba, Woodford, Bentley Park, Edmonton, Gordonvale, Labrador and Upper Coomera.