Children and families
Working in partnership with the community is critical to the success of the First Steps Count Child and Community Centre. The Centre operates and provides services and programs in response to community need. Children first in everything we do.
Mid Coast 4 Kids is a collective impact initiative designed to support Mid Coast communities to address long term, entrenched issues that impact on children and families. The aim is to ensure that all children have the best start to life. Mid Coast 4 Kids is mobilising the community to come together to explore and prioritise issues to positively influence outcomes for children. First Steps Count is particularly excited about working with local service providers to explore the potential for working together differently to better meet the needs of children and families on the Mid Coast and to achieve positive change at the systems level. The work undertaken by Mid Coast 4 Kids is underpinned by evidence which is drawn from The First 2000 Days (view PDF), Better Systems, Better Chances (view PDF) and Common Approach (view PDF) frameworks.
You can follow Mid Coast 4 Kids on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/midco
The University of Newcastle has been engaged in the First Steps Count journey since 2017. Their involvement and interest extends from collaborations on future studies to improve the outcomes for children in Taree and implementation and evaluation of evidence based programs through to the engineering, architecture and environmental aspects of the building. The biophilic design of the Centre and endeavour to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge have sparked a significant amount of interest at the University in regards to research and education.
ARACY is a long term supporter of the work and objectives of First Steps Count. As an organisation, we have adopted the shared national vision for children and young people, The Nest (https://www.aracy.org.au/
First Steps Count hopes that our children:
- Are loved and safe – First Steps Count will provide a safe, welcoming environment for children and families to meet. Many families in our region face challenges such as intergenerational trauma, domestic and family violence, substance misuse and unstable housing. Working under the Family Partnerships model in a trauma-informed framework, First Steps Count will foster a space where critical relationships can be formed with community to build trust, capacity and respect. Our motto is Children First in Everything We Do and this will be the driving factor when working with parents and carers in the community. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that children are loved and safe.
- Have material basics – children who have their basic needs met are more likely to engage in learning and have a greater sense of health and wellbeing. First Steps Count will partner with specific organisations who provide supports to children and young people who offer food relief, breakfast/lunch programs as well as housing support programs.
- Are healthy – Healthy children have their physical, developmental and mental health needs met. First Steps Count offers a space where children will be able to access services that support their health and wellbeing in one place. First Steps Count is working closely with Mid Coast 4 Kids to improve access to developmental assessments and before school screenings for children in our area. We will forge partnerships with government and non-government agencies who can provide a range of assessments and interventions to ensure our children have their needs met. Healthy eating has also been identified as a priority by the community. First Steps Count has the capacity to facilitate healthy cooking classes, exercise and physical recreation opportunities and community education to promote healthy lifestyles that will reduce the risk of chronic disease and illness.
- Are learning – We want our children to develop a love of learning early in life. First Steps Count will support our children and families by offering programs such as reading and literacy groups, supported playgroups, learning through play, homework club and HIPPY (https://hippyaustralia.bsl.org.au/). Only 1% of children in our area go on to University study. With the introduction of the Taree Universities Campus (https://www.tareeuni.org.au/), First Steps Count is excited about the influence we could have on the younger generations to instil a love of learning and supporting children to aspire to engage in tertiary education and training.
- Are participating – First Steps Count is a community centre, designed with and for the community. We are passionate about including the voice of children and families in the design of the building as well as the way First Steps Count works, once we are operational.
- Have a positive sense of identity and culture – “Having a positive sense of culture and identity is central to the wellbeing of children and youth, and is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) children and youth.” (The Nest). First Steps Count has strong support from the local Biripi community through our Elders as well as the First Steps Count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Yarnin’ Circle. While the Centre is a place for the whole community, the design of the space will be influenced by and respectful to the First Nations People in the area through art, culture and language. Taree is also home to a vast number of migrants and it is vital that all members of the community feel welcome at the Centre.
The success of the First Steps Count Child and Community Centre relies heavily on the involvement and engagement of local service providers.
A Round Table meeting was held in October 2019 to undertake a service mapping exercise and gap analysis.
There was a fantastic turn out at this day with over twelve local health, education and community service providers represented.
We are excited, moving forward, to formalise partnerships with our local providers.
Watch this space!