In an Australian first The Tasmanian Government has launched a pilot initiative to provide free early learning for three-year-olds of families experiencing disadvantage. The Working Together for 3 Year Old’s (WT3) initiative aims to increase participation amongst three-year-olds in early learning by providing free, quality early learning and more holistic supports.
TACSI is facilitating a co-design process with families, children and service partners in Tasmania to develop the initiative.
Approximately fifty children will participate in the pilot initiative across Tasmania, with the initiative being run in Launceston, Davenport, Glenorchy, Kingborough and the Derwent Valley.
Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff launched the pilot at Goodstart Early Learning’s Claremont centre, and said that two Goodstart centres will be included in the WT3 pilot along with other 8 service partners to test a variety of conditions and approaches to supporting families.
WT3 The initiative
WT3 is aligned to the three key elements of Tasmania’s Strategy for Children – Pregnancy to Eight Years 2018-2021which are Quality, Equity and Partnerships. The strategy assists in fostering a culture of quality and collaborative partnerships across sectors and government.
Findings from the WT3 co-design process will support the design of the broader roll-out of the 2020 initiative.
As both a method and a mindset, co-design works from the principle that people and communities have the wisdom and lived experience to play an active role in decisions that affect them. The aim of co-designing WT3 is for families and children to contribute their valid and valuable lived experience and ideas in the design of the initiative so it works best for them.
During the WT3 pilot, the WT3 team is collaborating with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), Tasmanian Council of Social Services (TasCOSS), families, children, Early Childhood Education and Care services, Child and Family Centres and schools.
The original collaboration occurred during the phase two co-design workshops which were facilitated by TACSI in December 2018 working with children, families and staff from the ECEC, education, health, and community service sectors. These workshops built on the learnings from the phase one co-design workshops which were held with the sector in November 2017.
Research shows that children who attend preschool perform much better at school, and that two years of early learning almost doubles that benefit. The children who benefit most are the children least likely to attend, which is why this initiative is so timely.
Currently just 46 per cent of three-year old’s attend early learning in Tasmania, the lowest of any state.
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