The following FAQs relate to the Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out-of-Home Care (referred to as: the Agreement).
What does the Agreement aim to achieve?
The Agreement aims to increase the participation of young children in out-of-home care (OoHC) in high quality early childhood services, with a particular focus on Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and kindergarten services. It will do this through professionals working together more collaboratively at the local level to ensure all young children in OoHC are attending and fully engaged in their local MCH and kindergarten service.
Who is the Agreement between?
The Agreement was signed in March 2014 as a shared commitment between the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (now the Department of Education & Training), the Department of Human Services (now the Department of Health and Human Services), the Municipal Association of Victoria and Early Learning Association Australia to improving the lives of children in OoHC.
All parties have agreed to a set of common aspirations for young children who live in OoHC, and to clear roles and responsibilities for implementing the Agreement.
Why do we need this Agreement?
Participation in high quality early childhood services has the capacity to make a significant difference to the lives of vulnerable young children.
Young children in OoHC are amongst the most vulnerable in our community, and yet many do not benefit from the full range of quality learning and development opportunities as highlighted by the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry.
In response to the Inquiry, the Victorian Government committed to working with local government and service providers to explore new mechanisms to ensure that young children in OoHC can thrive and learn in early childhood settings. This Agreement reflects this commitment.
Who is covered by the Agreement?
The Agreement covers young children in OoHC who are subject to Child Protection orders and are living in home-based care such as kinship care or foster care. It has a particular focus on Aboriginal children who are significantly over-represented in OoHC, as well as children with specific needs including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those with a disability or developmental delay.
What will change as a result of this Agreement?
The Agreement will encourage service providers to work together more collaboratively to make sure that that all young children in OoHC are participating in their local MCH service and kindergarten and that no child misses out on these important services.
The Agreement outlines clear roles and responsibilities for each sector, and includes a strengthened role for local government in supporting placements of children into services and working through implementation at the local level. To support this approach, all agencies and services will identify a designated contact and share this information across organisations.
How will the Agreement be implemented?
Implementation will be worked through at the local level under the guidance of Regional Governance Groups comprising staff from Department of Education & Training and Department of Health and Human Services regions and local councils. These groups will also ensure all contacts are nominated and readily accessible to all parties, as well as monitor data on the participation by children in OoCH in local MCH and kindergarten services.
A Central Implementation Group will promote the Agreement and ensure it is being acted on at the state-wide level, and identify and resolve any issues that are impacting on its implementation.
How can I find out more information?