Monica Truong says Supported Playgroups deliver great benefits to young mums like herself.
She attends the Hume Supported Playgroup with her daughter Aminah, 2.
'A lot of mums want to know ways to help their child learn and grow,' Ms Truong says. 'The support through these playgroups is really good.'
Supported Playgroups develop parenting skills and confidence to support child learning for parents who may not be able to access a community playgroup.
Unlike a community playgroup, Supported Playgroups employ an early childhood professional to guide the sessions and provide expert parenting support.
Each week, qualified and trained facilitator Melissa Kosteas runs five two-hour Supported Playgroups for families through the Hume City Council.
'The importance of early learning in children's lives from birth to four is so crucial for their development,' Ms Kosteas says.
Ms Truong says children also benefit from meeting new people and becoming more confident.
'I love it so much,' Ms Truong says.
'It's a way for me to get out and not always be stuck at home, meet new mothers and for my kids to be able to socialise with other kids as well.'
A boost for parents
Supported Playgroups follow the "smalltalk" model. Developed by the Parenting Research Centre, smalltalk shares strategies with parents on how they can communicate, play and share activities with their children.
Ms Kosteas says 'it is a wonderful opportunity for families to become familiar and confident in a learning environment and will help children transitioning into kindergarten and school.'
Ms Kosteas says Suppoted Playgroups give parents a lot of confidence and it strengthens their parenting skills – ultimately enhancing their children's outcomes.
'We ensure we provide a safe, inclusive and friendly environment so that families, as soon as they walk through the door, are feeling comfortable and are ready to build those connections,' Ms Kosteas says.
'We get them to build relationships, we get to have fun and it enhances families.'
Supported Playgroups in the Education State
Early childhood education gives young children the best start to life, leading to great outcomes in the future.
Playgroups encourage your child to learn and develop through play as well as giving you the opportunity to meet other parents and share parenting skills and experiences.
We have identified a need for Supported Playgroups so all families can benefit from playgroups.
Previously, Supported Playgroups operated in fewer than half of Victoria's local government areas.
An extra $22.1 million in funding will see this program available in all local government areas across the state, with more than 6000 additional families able to benefit.
More flexible eligibility criteria also means more families are able to access the program ⸺ such as those experiencing family violence, social isolation, mental health issues or homelessness.