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MEDIA RELEASE - Library bag aids learning and health checks

5 March 2020

A library bag filled with the essential items to start at kindergarten, including a lunch box and drink bottle, is being supplied to Glenelg Shire’s youngest residents to ensure they receive the best possible start to their learning and development.

Glenelg Shire Council in partnership with Portland District Health’s Maternal Child Health team is providing the transition kits to children participating in Maternal Child Health checks in an effort to encourage enrolment in early start kindergarten, particularly targeting vulnerable children.

The project is part of a statewide Central Enrolment project established in partnership with the Municipal Association of Victoria and funded by the State Government.

Glenelg Shire children’s services manager Janine Johnstone said the bags were an important marketing tool, highlighting the large breadth of support services on offer for children transitioning into early learning.

“Importantly these bags are encouraging greater participation in maternal child health key stage visits, which are an important method to identify ways to support a child’s health, growth and development giving them the best possible start in life,” Ms Johnstone said.

“Furthermore, we know it is critical that children have access to at least two years of kindergarten in these early years to ensure they have the best possible start to their learning journey.

“The evidence shows that two years of participation in quality kindergarten programs at an earlier age leads to positive effects on a child’s development and has even greater benefits for children who need extra support or who may be in vulnerable circumstances.

“Children participating in maternal child health two and three-and-a-half-year-old key age stage appointments will receive a library bag in an important step towards guiding families to make the important measure towards enrolling their children into a learning stream.”

The calico library bag was designed by local indigenous artist Jenna Bamblett.

Whilst including important items to store food and drink, it also features a toothbrush and toothpaste, an age appropriate book, a colouring book and pencils, a junior library card, and important information on various early learning and health services across the shire.

Ms Johnstone said the state led Central Enrolment system had been successfully targeting vulnerable families, ensuring they are identified early and proactively engaged and enrolled in high quality kindergarten programs.

“There is evidence to suggest that central enrolment has a positive impact on the engagement of vulnerable children in kindergarten programs,” she said.

“The Department's internal Early Start Kindergarten: Annual Participation Report 2016 found that between 2014 and 2016 there was an increase of 61 per cent in the number of Early Start Kindergarten enrolments in local government areas that participated in the central enrolment program, compared to an increase of 31.6 per cent in non-participating areas.”

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