Loddon Shire will receive direct financial support to ensure children are prepared to start school

FUNDING: Loddon Shire to receive funding to assist disadvantaged families prepare their children for school. Picture: CONTRIBUTED
FUNDING: Loddon Shire to receive funding to assist disadvantaged families prepare their children for school. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Families in the Loddon Shire will receive assistance to ensure children are ready to start school, following the release of statistics that indicated children in the shire are more than twice as likely to arrive at school unprepared.

Executive officer of North Central Local Learning and Employment Network (NCLLEN) Jerri Nelson said it would take four years to create the significant influential system changes that will support families in Loddon Shire.

“It will support a nurturing and stimulating family environment and appropriately support parents in their caretaking role to navigate the system and to access resources to build their child’s capacity,” Ms Nelson said.

The Strong Families Strong Children Loddon program will receive $400,000 over three years from the William Buckland Foundation, which will assist in connecting up to 20 families with education and support services.

Ms Nelson said the project requires a further $250,000 for a four-year campaign and that it’s significant because it focuses on funding “feet on the ground”.

The program will also employ a facilitator that will work directly with families to assist them in accessing the appropriate resources and services.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get the system to work when you’re in rural Victoria but this will help parents to give their children the best possible support, which makes a big difference in ensuring children are ready for learning,” Ms Nelson said.

The statistics show that children in the Loddon Shire are likely to arrive at school inappropriately dressed, late, tired or hungry and the entire region’s average of families facing disadvantage and children lacking independence at school is higher than the state average.

Loddon Shire Council director of community wellbeing Wendy Gladman said the program will progress towards giving every child the best possible opportunity in life.

“Often services or supports are available but families are not accessing them; now we can work with families to help them make the best use of services and resources,” Ms Gladman said.

Department of Education and Training senior education improvement leader‎ Paul Hon said there is data that indicates there are levels of disadvantage in Loddon.

“We feel that that to be able to support and get all of the best outcomes for kids we need to be able to have all the stakeholders involved working directly with families,” Mr Hon said.

NCLLEN is leading the Strong Families Strong Children for Loddon partnership program with assistance from Loddon Shire, North West Regional Department of Education and Children in Youth Area Partnership.