Best Start

Best Start partnerships focus on children experiencing vulnerability and all Aboriginal children to ensure all children have access to quality early childhood experiences through kindergarten, supported playgroups and maternal and child health services.

About the program

Best Start is a Victorian Government early years, place-based initiative to support families and caregivers in providing the best possible environment, experiences and care for children from birth to age eight.

Best Start partnerships use local data and community knowledge to identify those who are experiencing vulnerability at their sites. Communities and service providers collaborate to address issues as they are experienced at a neighbourhood or regional level.

This localised, targeted way of finding solutions to problems faced by families has been shown to be extremely effective. Efforts are focused on boosting children's participation in the programs such as kindergarten and maternal and child health (MCH) services. The program also puts in place prevention strategeis, such as providing referral pathways when targeted supports are required.

For more information, please refer to the 2016 Best Start fact sheet:

2016 Best Start Fact Sheet
2016 Best Start Fact Sheet

Project sites

There are a total of 30 Best Start project sites across Victoria. Six of these project sites work specifically with local Aboriginal communities.

Outcomes

The primary and optional outcomes listed below are medium-term outcomes, and have been devised to focus and organise partnership efforts so that they align with Best Start key directions.

Best Start outcomes​ ​
Primary outcomes​ ​​Children engage and participate in early childhood education (kindergarten and Supported Playgroups)
​Children and families actively engage with MCH services, attending key ages and stages visits
Optional outcomes​ ​​Children acquire literacy and numeracy skills through active participation in their education
​Early childhood services provide an engaging environment for children and families experiencing vulnerability

Partnerships

Best Start partnerships lead reform at the local level. They play a key role in bringing local services together to deliver on the Best Start outcomes for children and their families, in particular those with the greatest needs. All Best Start partnerships have a role to play in working in a culturally inclusive manner with Aboriginal communities.

The Best Start partnership works collaboratively to:

  • take responsibility for the interests of all children, especially Aboriginal children and children experiencing vulnerability, to access the key universal platforms of kindergarten and MCH services, and targeted services like Supported Playgroups
  • work in a culturally inclusive manner with Aboriginal communities
  • define and agree on the barriers and needs for their Best Start site that align with the Best Start vision, key directions, outcomes and the site's special areas of focus. They are careful to ensure the impact of the partnership is placed ahead of the interests of any individual organisation
  • develop a logic model and devise strategies and actions to test through Plan Do Study Act cycles, and engage in improvement cycles to achieve Best Start outcomes
  • monitor and report on progress regularly so that improvements can be made to their Best Start strategies and actions
  • prepare, develop and endorse all reports in line with the Department's requirements, as per the Best Start Policy and Guidelines.

Further information