A $2.25 million State-wide expansion is underway for a unique family support program helping parents prepare young children for life at school.
Community Development and Family Minister Eric Ripper said today the funding, over the next three years, would enable the establishment and expansion of 18 early education programs across Western Australia.
Mr Ripper made the announcement to coincide with the start of the 1992 fourth school term. The early education expansion was a key part of the Government's landmark Social Advantage package.
"The Social Advantage philosophy is to ensure that support services, which address the special needs of children, are available in the important early years," Mr Ripper said.
"Experience shows that long-term reductions in broader social ills such as juvenile crime, drug abuse and family assault, can be achieved by parent skill training and pre-school enrichment programs such as this."
Under the early education program, education officers with special qualifications offered help to parents and children at family homes or from community centres, with communication, language and social skills. The aim was to prepare children for pre-school and school entry.
The Department for Community Development initiative was in conjunction with the Health Department, Education Ministry and the community.
The Minister said the $2.25 million expansion was based on a new project developed in Kwinana and also now underway in Mandurah.
New services were being provided in:
· Port Hedland, Onslow, Derby, Halls Creek, Meekatharra, Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Carnarvon, Harvey/Yarloop and Manjimup in the country, and Kwinana, Peel (Mandurah) and Coolbellup, in the metropolitan area.
Existing services would be upgraded in:
· Maylands, Belmont, Midland, Fremantle and Whitfords.
Mr Ripper said community consultation and planning was now underway and all programs were expected to be in operation from the start of next year.
"To a major extent, a supportive family and language skills are the factors which determine a child's social achievement at school," the Minister said.
"These services will be closely monitored and I will consider a full report on outcomes after one year, to ensure the best mix of Government and community-based services is being provided."