Go to top of page

Great start

The foundations for a healthy, happy and successful life are set in the early years, yet more than 1 in 5 reception children start school with developmental concerns. This puts them at risk throughout their education and makes it easier for them to fall behind their peers.

There is compelling international evidence about the importance of early brain development. The research also demonstrates there is an important opportunity in the early years (0 to 4) to invest in children’s health, learning and life outcomes.

We believe that high-quality early childhood services are the most powerful tool to improve the life chances of vulnerable children.

In South Australia we have a proud history of investment and innovation in early childhood development. We are the pioneers of children’s centres – with 43 now open across the state – where parents, children and experts in child development come together.

By building on our experience and strong relationships we will work to ensure South Australian children have a strong start in life.

We will:

  • work with families to ensure children and young people have a healthy start in life
  • intervene early where there are health, developmental or safety concerns
  • provide high-quality early learning so children are ready for school.

Our initiatives

Child and family assessment and referral networks

Early intervention is essential to reduce the number of vulnerable children and families in our community. This is why the South Australian Government is piloting child and family assessment and referral networks (CFARNS) to work with families at risk in the first 1000 days of a child’s life. CFARNS offer a proactive, early intervention approach to ensure families are referred to relevant support services in their local community. By intervening early in the life of a child, and early in the life of a problem, we can help families get back on track and ensure vulnerability does not become entrenched.

Improving service integration in children’s centres

Children’s centres support children and families to achieve the best possible learning, health and wellbeing outcomes, and provide targeted intervention when needed. We are working to improve how services are delivered and better align the resources within children’s centres, Child and Family Health Services, the Department for Child Protection and non-government organisations providing family support services.

By making it easier for families to access the services they need, we can improve parent and carer capacity and prevent families from entering the child protection system.

Preschool educator ratios

To keep improving the quality of our early childhood services, the state government has invested in achieving 1 educator for every 10 children in government preschools in areas of greatest need. In other government preschools the ratio will not exceed 1 educator for every 11 children, down from a maximum of 1 to 13.

Preschool outdoor learning areas

The South Australian Government will provide 20 new outdoor areas for preschools by 2018.

Outdoor learning environments are important for encouraging healthy behaviours and improving the physical, educational and mental wellbeing of children. They also connect children and young people to the natural world. Each outdoor area is developed in consultation with local parents, children and the community.

Future directions

  • Increase access to high-quality integrated health, care, learning and family support services through children’s centres
  • Work with other government agencies to improve early intervention for at-risk children
  • Investigate preschool options for vulnerable 3-year-olds
  • Advance the role of Aboriginal culture and communities in improving health and development outcomes.