Greater access to child development professionals, easier connections for parents with increased support for playgroups and a significant investment in South Australia’s nation leading preschool system are key features of the state government’s $50.1 million Early Learning Strategy.
At the centrepiece of this strategy is a $35.1 million investment to expand the reach, frequency and number of child development checks.
Around a quarter of South Australian children start school developmentally vulnerable. They may be behind in the areas of physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication skills or general knowledge.
It can be an extra challenge for these children to catch up to their peers at school.
At the moment, every family is offered a universal home visit for their baby from the Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) soon after birth, with milestone checks offered at 6-9 months, 18-24 months and at preschool. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of or do not take up the opportunity to utilise these checks.
Extra child development checks will help make sure children are developmentally on track when they start school, by identifying any issues early so families can receive support as soon as they need it.
The schedule will be widened to include additional checks at 12 months and 3 years. Increased monitoring of children’s developmental milestones from birth to school age will reduce undiagnosed developmental delays in children entering the education system.
We know that investing in the early years improves children’s chances of prospering into the future.
As well as the expanded reach and frequency of child development checks, this new investment will allow us to:
- give parents easy access to tips and resources to support their child’s development
- provide teachers with new resources to build on the high-quality learning and development in every public preschool
- provide strategic vision and direction across the early years system through a new Office for the Early Years in the Department for Education.
The Early Learning Strategy is accounts for flexibility and growth as it moves through its 10-year life to suit the needs of an ever-changing community.