Our Place secures prestigious grant to launch innovative Early Years Care Program

The Morwell community faces numerous challenges, with many children experiencing complex health, developmental and behavioral issues that affect their education and overall well-being. In 2023, a staggering 68% of children presenting at Morwell Central Primary School required referrals to health services, with 38% needing multiple referrals. These statistics highlight an urgent need for targeted early interventions to ensure that no child is left behind due to a lack of adequate support.

The newly funded project will establish an Early Years Nurse Care Coordinator position at Goodstart Early Learning Centre at Morwell Central Primary School. This is a pivotal role designed to provide on-site support, guidance and care for children and their families. This initiative, developed in partnership with the Research in Effective Education in Early Childhood (REEaCh) Centre at The University of Melbourne, aims to break the cycle of inequity and offer every child a fair chance at a successful future.

We are incredibly excited about the impact this program will have on our community. By collaborating with educators and families and providing the necessary support through our Early Years Nurse Care Coordinator, we can address health and wellbeing concerns during the critical early years, creating a transformative effect as children transition to school.

Jen Doultree, Our Place Morwell Partnership Manager

Our Place will work closely with several established partners, including Goodstart Early Learning Centres, Latrobe Community Health Service (LCHS) Paediatric Unit, NDIS-Early Childhood Approach, Latrobe Regional Hospital, and Key Assets. The nurse will be employed through LCHS, which has extensive experience in delivering innovative outreach nursing services to disadvantaged communities.

The program will undergo a rigorous evaluation conducted by the REEaCh Centre, utilising a mixed-methods approach that includes surveys, interviews, child health and development assessments, and observations. This evaluation will provide valuable insights for refining the program and potentially expanding it to other Our Place sites. Moreover, it will offer compelling evidence to local and national governments on the benefits of early intervention approaches.

“The holistic place-based approach of Our Place is central to our vision of supporting the health, education, and development of all children and families in disadvantaged communities,” said Jen.

“This initiative exemplifies our commitment to collaborative partnerships, early identification, and timely intervention, ensuring that every child receives the care and support they need.”

In addition to addressing health and developmental needs, the program design takes gender equality into account by supporting inclusive practices among educators and conducting gender-disaggregated data analysis. This ensures that gender-specific needs and challenges are understood and addressed, reinforcing Our Place’s dedication to nurturing the wellbeing of all children.

Our Place’s Early Years Nurse Care Coordinator program represents a significant step forward in creating a supportive, inclusive and healthy environment for children in the Morwell community. This innovative initiative is poised to set a new standard for early childhood care and education, paving the way for future expansions and broader policy adoption.