The revised Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out-of-Home Care (Early Childhood Agreement) works to ensure that all Victorian children have access to high quality early childhood services, regardless of circumstance.
The refreshed Agreement is already making a difference, and the case study of three-year-old Ella demonstrates how partners and services have worked together to advocate for a child's right to access education and development services.
Ella is the middle child of three and is currently living in a foster care arrangement that is case managed by Anglicare Victoria. When Ella's Child Protection Practitioner (CPP) and foster carer attempted to enrol her into a private, local long day care service that her siblings had attended the previous year, she was refused.
The CPP discovered that this was due to a previous debt relating to Ella's siblings, Nicole (aged 5) who lives with the children's mother and is being monitored by DHHS, and Zoe (aged 2) who lives in a separate foster care arrangement that is case managed by Baptcare.
Ella's CPP then sought help from the local LOOKOUT Early Childhood Learning Advisor (ECLA) to assist with her enrolment at the long day care service.
The ECLA spoke to the service director about their concerns that further debts would accumulate and while the debt is still being investigated, the issue of Ella's attendance has been resolved.
LOOKOUT, with the assistance of the local Early Childhood Performance and Planning Advisor (ECPAPA), helped the service identify the children as three separate clients and as such, the outstanding debts have no bearing on Ella and should not prevent her from attending.
LOOKOUT also provided the service director with information on the Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) grants as Ella meets the eligibility criteria. Ella is now enrolled at the long day care service with provisions in place to access the Additional Child Care Subsidy – Wellbeing. This is enabling Ella to attend without cost being an issue, while the ESK grant means ELLA is benefiting from a teacher delivered program.
With the help of the Early Childhood Agreement and the collaboration between partners and services, Ella is now learning the vital skills she needs to be on track with her peers when starting school and beyond.
LOOKOUT and the ECPAPA continue to support the service with their inclusion policies and procedures for vulnerable children attending their service.
Please note that names and some facts have been changed for privacy.