The McGowan Labor Government has missed a golden opportunity through this year’s State Budget to support the establishment of additional Child and Parent Centres to help more families with young children across Western Australia.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher said the State Budget remained silent on the establishment of more centres and confirmed the Minister for Education’s statement in recent Annual Report hearings that there is no “state-wide plan”.
“Child and Parent Centres are a successful model of integrated service delivery providing hundreds of programmes and services every year to engage families with young children,” Mrs Faragher said.
“In the 2020-21 financial year, 590 programmes and services were delivered across the State’s 22 Child and Parent Centres ranging from playgroups to parenting programmes, child health and allied health clinics, counselling services and various early learning programmes.
“During this same period there were 74,000 child attendances and 72,000 adult attendances across these centres including more than 7,000 child attendances at the Gosnells Child and Parent Centre and over 8,500 at the Swan Child and Parent Centre alone.”
Mrs Faragher said an independent evaluation of the Child and Parent Centre initiative found the centres were a valuable community resource supporting early childhood development and assisting in the early identification of potential developmental delays or concerns.
“These centres were designed to help close the gap between the development, health and learning outcomes of young children who may be at risk of developmental delay and have been found to be a very successful model with the former Commissioner for Children and Young People recommending the number of centres in Western Australia be increased.
“The Department of Education’s own 2020/21 Annual Report states the centres ‘support families and communities to provide young children with the best start to learning’.
“Despite their success and the community’s support, the McGowan Labor Government has only added one extra Child and Parent Centre in the past five years to the 21 centres operating under the former Liberal-National Government.
“With a record $5.7 billion surplus this financial year, surely the McGowan Labor Government could have given support to the establishment of more Child and Parent Centres across our State,” Mrs Faragher said.