MATERNAL and Child Health Services in Bendigo are assessing whether more staff will be needed as the state government expands a program to help families at risk of ‘poor outcomes’.
The $37.7 million investment, statewide, will extend Enhanced Maternal and Child Health support services from one year to three.
“In the City of Greater Bendigo we’re looking at an additional $160,000 worth of funding,” Bendigo community wellbeing manager Chris Kelly said.
The funding equates to a total of 140 hours of care for the city’s families.
Ms Kelly said the expansion would be incremental, with at-risk families with a child aged up to two years to become eligible for Enhanced Maternal and Child Health support within the next month or so.
The program will be extended by a further year, to families with a child aged three, in another 12 months.
Ms Kelly said Enhanced Maternal and Child Health support was distinct from the key ages and stages consultations available to all families.
“It is very specific and it is very targeted,” she said.
“It provides a more intensive level of support to what we would normally provide for families.”
She said areas of focus included infant mental health and wellbeing and support for families, including those affected by violence.
“It’s really that intervention to make sure every child gets the best start in life,” Ms Kelly said.
She said the expansion in services would enable decisions around who received Enhanced Maternal and Child Health support services, and for how long, to be based more on how the child and the family were doing.
“It’s a really good thing,” Ms Kelly said.
Early Childhood Education Minister Jenny Mikakos said the expanded services would benefit 37,000 families a year when fully rolled out, an increase from 12,000 families.
“We’re making sure more families can access the vital support they need to raise healthy, happy kids who are ready for kinder – no matter where they live,” she said.
A free, 24-hour Maternal and Child Health Line phone service is available to all families with children aged from birth to school age on 13 22 99.
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