Hub of activity for kids and families at Rockdale

Targeting a diverse community: Rockdale is home to a new service for families in St George, which aims to improve development in children.
Targeting a diverse community: Rockdale is home to a new service for families in St George, which aims to improve development in children.

A welcoming new service for families in St George has launched at Rockdale.

Children and Families Hub aims to improve educational outcomes by addressing developmental challenges in children below five years of age.

It is a partnership with the community, education and health organisations.

The hub offers playgroups, family support, parenting information, transition to school activities and resources, child and family health services and support for families with children with additional needs, plus links with childcare, pre-schools and Rockdale Public School.

Staff including nurses are able to facilitate referrals between services on behalf of families, such as with a paediatrician or allied health or developmental assessment services.

Director of Child Youth and Family Services, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), Michelle Jubelin, says the need for a place-based, proactive service was identified though research that uncovered at Rockdale, 23 per cent of children showed undetected developmental vulnerabilities when starting school.

This is above the state average of 20 per cent.

"We understand that children from culturally and linguistically diverse families are more vulnerable to slipping through the cracks, as families are less likely to access health services due to barriers such as poor health literacy or unfamiliarity with services," Ms Jubelin said.

"In St George, 41 per cent of residents are born in a non-English speaking country. This means that taking early intervention support services directly to families is an important step in shaping the long-term health and well-being of children."

Chief executive of Integricare, Domenic Valastro, says the aim is to decrease the proportion of children enrolling in kindergarten with undetected or under-managed developmental concerns.

"Long term, we hope to ensure that a child enters school with their developmental needs addressed early, as this will result in improved educational outcomes," Mr Valastro said.

"We know that the first 2000 days of a child's life - between birth and five years of age - provide a crucial window of opportunity to support children and their families to have the best possible start to school and learning. That's why at The Hub our focus is to have a one-stopshop of information and services to enhance development in these early years."

Several agencies have partnered together to deliver The Hub, including SESLHD, Integricare, Department of Education, Rockdale Community Services, Barnardos, Life start Family and Community Services and Advance Diversity Services.

Details here or here.