Supporting expecting and new mothers on our sites
Since 2018, a number of Our Place sites have partnered with local service providers to implement the unique Our Place Baby College program. Past participants have shared that their engagement with this program has been beneficial in many ways, some of which are described below.
What is Baby College?
Baby College supports vulnerable mothers (first-time and non-first-time mothers) for 12 months during prenatal and early postnatal periods to improve their child’s developmental outcomes.
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 through the delivery of a flexible evidenced-based curriculum that is family-centred. Families receive access to 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.
Baby College is currently operating at our Robinvale, Northern Bay, Morwell sites and will be expanded to more sites in 2023. For further enquiries about Baby College please feel free to contact us via our website.
The positive impact Baby College can have
Baby College has helped reduce feelings of isolation. One past participant shared that the facilitators of the program and other participants became an extended family to her and her children, which made a world of difference to her mental health and confidence. She explained that she felt less alone in her struggles and was supported by the facilitators to receive information that helped her in her parenting journey and navigating sensitive areas within her personal life.
‘It went over and above expectations. I thought it was just like a playgroup, it was more like a family. We grew together.’ (Participant)
Baby College has helped increase awareness of the importance of early learning. Another past participant shared that Baby College taught her a lot about children’s brain development. This learning resulted in this mother ensuring that she read to her child daily and made time to have many interactions and conversations with them. This mother also had opportunities to learn how to make very low-cost sensory toys (mainly from repurposed items in the home) and has continued to make many more to use at home during playtime with her child.
‘I never gave my older kids baby massages. I’m doing it with [my baby] every now and then. We are playing more with baby toys rather than trucks etc that belong to the older brothers, and looking at colours.’ (Participant)
‘We’re going to the library and I don’t usually go … I wouldn’t have gone to a library otherwise.’ (Participant)
The Baby College door is always open. Baby College facilitators acknowledge that attending groups can be confronting for some and that parents (especially new mothers) are juggling many balls in the air at once. Therefore, when mothers do not attend sessions, the facilitators ensure the line of communication is left open, and mothers are aware that they can return any time they wish – with no judgement. Facilitators also continue to support parents via text and phone calls during periods when participants were unable to attend some sessions due to personal circumstances.
One mother shared that she was referred to the program but was too shy and embarrassed to attend the sessions. However, as the facilitators initially offered her support and encouragement through texts and phone calls, her confidence began to increase as she established rapport and trust with the facilitators and eventually attended the sessions in person.
‘It was a non-judgemental space… It exceeded expectations. I can’t emphasise enough how safe I felt there and supported.’ (Participant)
Aligning with the Our Place Approach
Baby College aligns with the Our Place evidence based element of High Quality Early Learning. To learn more about this element Click Here