Access to Early Learning (AEL) – School Readiness Funding Model

The Access to Early Learning – School Readiness Funding Model (AEL-SRF) is derived from the Access to Early Learning model that has proven effective in engaging vulnerable children in kindergarten.

Program details

  • Priority area: Wellbeing (social and emotional), access and inclusion
  • Primary audience: Educators, parents/carers, children
  • Delivery mode: Professional services
  • Strength of Evidence: Level 5 Foundational research evidence
  • AEDC sub-domains:
    • Emotional maturity anxious and fearful behaviour
    • Emotional maturity aggressive behaviour
    • Emotional maturity hyperactivity and inattentive behaviour
    • Social competence responsibility and respect
  • Item cost: High (>$2,000 per person/item)

Program description

The Access to Early Learning – School Readiness Funding Model (AEL-SRF) is derived from the Access to Early Learning model that has proven effective in engaging vulnerable children in kindergarten. The overarching objective of AEL-SRF is to provide children from families with complex needs, who may otherwise miss out on kindergarten, with a rich education experience before they start school.

(AEL-SRF) provides:

  • a dedicated facilitator to support vulnerable children, and their families and educators
  • in-home learning support for families engaged in AEL-SRF
  • professional Practice Development opportunities for educators
  • co-ordinating engagement to other support services

The AEL-SRF program uses an evidence-informed model to address social and emotional wellbeing of children and families and increase engagement and participation of vulnerable children in kindergarten.

The facilitator role is designed to address the critical steps in identifying, engaging and supporting three- and four-year-old children from vulnerable families to participate early and remain engaged in high-quality kindergarten programs. Facilitators work with parents to build their capacity to provide a stimulating in-home learning environment and link families with appropriate additional local services and supports.

The facilitator also links in-home learning experiences with the kindergarten program and works with educators to support families' engagement.

Services can engage an AEL-SRF facilitator through a suitable third-party provider such as a family services organisation or community health service. Facilitators will be required to implement the program in line with the Access to Early Learning Guidelines.

While the model works directly with children and families, it is also designed to build educators capacity to support the engagement all vulnerable children at the service. This is achieved through the facilitator working in partnership with service providers to ensure there are opportunities for educators to participate in Professional Practice Development training and reflective practices.

The program can and does work across multiple services. SRF funding from multiple services can pooled to enable purchasing arrangements. The AEL-SRF Guidelines provides information regarding how services can work together to establish these arrangements.

Detailed cost

The total cost of the service is $154,049 per year.

The model enables intensive support for children from families with complex needs. Accordingly, the number of children that can be directly supported through AEL-SRF can range between 16 to 20. This may vary with the provider and depending on the agreed number of targets, the unit cost for AEL-SRF will be between $7,702 –$9,628.

Implementation considerations

Target population: Vulnerable and disadvantaged children aged three and four at risk of starting school with no experience of early childhood education.

Program/practice descriptions and details: The AEL program is designed to be applied across several services in close proximity. It is suitable for Early Years Managers or local government.

Facilitators take a practical approach, using holistic, child-focused and strength-based practices with families.

Benefits of the AEL-SRF program may include, but are not limited to:

  • the child achieving very high levels of attendance in kindergarten
  • parents having an improved understanding of their children's learning and development and increased confidence in responding to their children's needs
  • strengthened links between in-home learning and the kindergarten program
    increased collaboration between services in support of families
  • educators having an enhanced understanding of the barriers to engaging vulnerable children and families, including an improved ability to overcome those barriers.

Staffing: Facilitators hold tertiary qualifications in social work or related fields and have extensive experience working with young children and vulnerable families. Educators must work closely with facilitators, so dedicated time and backfill staff may be required.

Factors to consider: Facilitators must be part of an agency or organisation experienced with providing suitable supervision and support – for example, with robust policies and practice for outreach services and home visits. Organisations could include a family services organisation, local government or an early years manager.

The AEL-SRF program is designed to be applied across several services in close proximity. It is possible that some larger services or larger providers will have sufficient funds to implement this item on their own. It is more likely that services will need to pool resources to engage a provider to deliver the AEL-SRF program (see AEL-SRF Guidelines for more information).

Kindergarten Improvement Advisors in the Department of Education and Training regional offices can assist with linking interested Early Childhood services with prospective AEL-SRF providers.

Implementation model: AEL-SRF enables the employment of a Facilitator that is responsible for the following:

  • identifying children and families eligible for AEL-SRF through working with relevant referring organisations such as family services, child protection, and Maternal and Child Health (MCH)
  • proactively reaching out and visiting families to understand and address barriers to participation, and supporting their enrolment and induction in kindergarten
  • leading regular in-home learning activities, working on family-led goals that build parents' understanding, confidence and skills regarding their child's development and learning
  • monitoring children and families' needs and child attendance through and proactively address issues as they arise
    providing educators with support for reflection, and on-site coaching to extend their inclusive and collaborative practices and where needed, provide access to additional training
  • supporting the child and family to transition to the following year of kindergarten or school program
  • supporting families to link with additional supports as required.

VEYLDF alignment

Item uses these practice principles

  • Reflective practice
  • Partnerships with families
  • High expectations for every child
  • Respectful relationships and responsive engagement
  • Equity and diversity
  • Assessment for learning and development
  • Integrated teaching and learning approaches
  • Partnerships with professionals

Item responds to these sub-outcomes

  • Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing
  • Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing

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