Minister for Education Kate Jones announces PELD program

$10.6mil for early childhood boost

A $10.6 million investment into 12 new early childhood learning and development services across the state was announced at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre this morning.

Minister for Education, Kate Jones and Minister for Communities Shannon Fentiman launched the Pathways for Early Learning and Development (PELD) program which will assist vulnerable Queensland children by granting them a stronger start to their education.

"In the last 12 months we've trialled a new way of early learning development by partnering early years educators with family support workers to ensure that we're providing that wrap around service for children growing up in vulnerable families," Ms Jones said.

"We've seen such a success that today in Hervey Bay we're announcing that we'll extend this program to 12 new locations across Queensland."

A $4.5 million contract was also announced for the Hervey Bay Community Centre's Intensive Family Support program.

Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre CEO, Tanya Stevenson said she was "excited and honoured" to deliver the program on behalf of the Queensland Government.

"We look forward to providing a community hub to families of the Fraser Coast," Ms Stevenson said.

Minister for Education Kate Jones, Minister for Communities Shannon Fentiman and Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre CEO Tanya Stevenson at the Neighbourhood Centre where the Pathways for Early Learning and Development program was announced.
Minister for Education Kate Jones, Minister for Communities Shannon Fentiman and Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre CEO Tanya Stevenson at the Neighbourhood Centre where the Pathways for Early Learning and Development program was announced. Inge Hansen

The program have early childhood educators in child intensive support teams based in people's homes and working with parents to assist children in their social skills, language skills and better prepared for school.

Ms Fentiman, said many families who were vulnerable were already involved in places like the community centre and therefore workers would be able to identify which children need assistance.

"We want to act earlier before families reach crisis point and that's what this $10 million program does," she said.

"This trial also found that the child/parent relationship was a lot more positive so that's going to mean healthier, happier families."

Despite many vulnerable children across Queensland, Ms Fentiman said there was a particular need identified in Hervey Bay.

"We're seeing escalating rates of domestic and family violence but also ice use which is readily available in Queensland and is having devastating impacts on our families," Ms Fentiman said.

"We want to act earlier before families reach crisis point and that's what this $10million program does."

There are 32 new child safety staff set to be rolled across the region with 10 being based at the Neighbourhood Centre in Hervey Bay on top of their current 65.

Ms Fentiman said support would also be provided to community centres including $900,000 of annual funding for the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

"Places like the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre are part of the lifeblood of the community and provide life-changing services for many local families," she said.



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