Mothers and children in Robinvale benefit from the Baby College program

The commitment and community connection of 10 mums and 12 children who participated in the Baby College program has been recently recognised with a graduation ceremony.

Funded by Besen Family Foundation, the unique Our Place program has holistically supported mothers in Robinvale and Euston since September 2020 to receive high quality, wrap-around support.  December 2021 was a time of celebration, with the graduation ceremony acknowledging the dedication of all involved and providing an opportunity for participants and facilitators to share their experiences, achievements, and highlights.

Focusing on early engagement and prevention, Baby College is designed to connect parents with support from late pregnancy through to early parenting. Facilitators with early childhood and parenting expertise support the building of strong parent-child relationships by delivering a flexible, evidence-based curriculum that is family-centred. Families receive regular support in a weekly group setting and can begin the program from their third trimester of pregnancy to when their child is approximately nine months of age. 

There were 54 sessions of Baby College during the 2020/21 program. Due to COVID19 restrictions, sessions consisted of a mixture of group sessions, individual one-on-one sessions and both group and individual zoom/facetime sessions. This energetic and enthusiastic group of mums, all varying in age, cultural and personal backgrounds, have become valuable supports to each other. These mums have formed wonderful new friendships, actively learned about and shared in each other’s cultures, and will continue to connect and support each other in the future.

The facilitators of the Baby College program were also celebrated and recognised as an essential and valuable resource. The facilitators have not only helped mothers to grow in confidence in their parenting journeys but have supported all mothers in various ways, including getting back into education, referrals to services, support during COVID19 isolation, enrolling children into Early Childhood Education and Care services, including long day care and preschool. Facilitators were also always willing and available on the other end of the phone for assistance with daily life worries and struggles.

The 2020/21 Baby College program has resulted in some amazing outcomes, including seven group members transitioning to supported playgroups in 2022, where they will continue to receive wrap-around support. Two mothers will continue on in the program until their 12 months is complete. Due to becoming recognised for its value and high-quality delivery, Baby College has received several new referrals for 2022. As there is a rolling intake, mothers can also be accepted into the program throughout the year.  

Baby College aligns with the Our Place Element of High-Quality Early Learning, Health and Development, which is one of the five evidence-based Elements that are central to the Our Place approach.  The key features of this element are:  

  • Early engagement and intervention
  • High-quality early learning services and supports
  • Continuity in learning between the early years and school
  • Positive home learning environments.