Banyule Community Health has developed, trialled and evaluated an innovative program - The SPOT-On Program – designed to assist early learning centres (ELCs) with tailored supports that build the capacity of early childhood educators to support children’s learning and development and promote access and inclusion for vulnerable children.
This is a placed based, capacity building program, where paediatric Allied Health professionals spend time each week at the ELC, observing children and educators in their natural environment and providing advice, guidance and support to educators and children’s families.
The program is delivered by a Paediatric Speech Pathologist and Paediatric Occupational Therapist who work directly with early childhood educators, children and parents/carers at ELCs over a period of 20 weeks.
The program has achieved a number of key outcomes in the ELCs where it has been delivered, including:
- Substantial increases in the specific skills and knowledge of educators, including confidence in having discussions and interactions with parents/caregivers about how to support their childrens’ learning and development
- All educators benefitted from the coaching, upskilling and information provided by the Banyule Community Health Allied Health professionals
- Notable benefits of professional development and capacity building processes on educators’ knowledge bases, skill sets and motivation to use what they learned
- Overall, high levels of parent/caregiver satisfaction with their interactions with the BCH Allied Health professionals and the program overall.
The SPOT-On program provides four hours per week of Paediatric Occupational Therapy and four hours per week of Paediatric Speech Pathology over a period of 20 weeks during the normal school year. This program can also be tailored to meet the individual needs and circumstances of an ELC.
The Banyule Community Health Allied Health professionals work with the ELC in a flexible and collaborative manner to deliver a range of services onsite, including:
- Working directly with educators on their knowledge and skill development in order to recognise developmental challenges and foster appropriate and functional skills in key developmental domains
- Provision of information sessions to educators, other ELC staff and parents/caregivers to improve their knowledge and skills in supporting their child’s development
- Observation of children’s development and behaviour which enable conversations with educators and parents that support learning
- Responding to queries from all ELC staff and parents/caregivers
- Providing specific therapy ideas and information to educators and parents/caregivers
- Modelling and coaching of specific therapy ideas to educators
- Providing a range of appropriate resources
- Supporting families and children at risk of developmental delays to access appropriate assessment and therapeutic services, as required.
ELCs that receive funding under the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) School Readiness Funding scheme can use their flexible funding towards the purchase of the SPOT-On Program.
For more information about the Spot-On program, please contact Julie Wiltshire, Team Leader Child Health, at Banyule Community Health on (03) 9450 2030.
From Amy Heritage, Coordinator of Joyce Ave. Children’s Centre:
“I have no hesitation in recommending the SPOT-On outreach program as appropriate for use in other early learning centres.”
“The Banyule Community Health team are commended for their professional approach and the way they communicated with and interacted with staff, the children and the parents/caregivers”
“In one particular case, we had been working with a child and their parents over some time in attempt to have their child properly assessed for developmental delay, however they had not been successful in convincing the family to follow-through on suggested referrals for a formal assessment of their child. As a result of the Banyule Community Health team being in attendance, the family had now engaged and were pursuing the necessary assessments.”
Acknowledgement: Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website (www.health.gov.au) for more information.
Disclaimer: Although funding for these Allied Health services has been provided by the Australian Government, the material contained herein does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Australian Government.