What is Best Start?

Best Start is a Victorian Government early years, place-based initiative that is funded and administered by the Department of Education and Training to support families, caregivers and communities 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.

Best Start is characterised by an approach that supports parents and caregivers to create a positive environment for children by encouraging communities to work with their local early years services and schools. 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 we know have the best results for setting them up for success, 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.

Victoria has a strong early childhood system with high participation rates in MCH services and kindergarten - however some children are missing out. Typically, these are children who are experiencing vulnerability and have the most to gain from engaging in high-quality services.

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

2016 Best Start Fact Sheet
2016 Best Start Fact Sheet


Best Start 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.

The diagram below describes the collaborative relationships within a Best Start partnership.



                                                                                                    Return to Best Start homepage