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The Best Start program is a Victorian Department of Education and Training place-based prevention and early intervention initiative focused on strengthening early childhood services for Victorian children and families. Best Start aims to give every child the best start in life by improving their learning and
development; and encouraging agencies and services to work together to address challenges faced by families and communities.
Implementation of Best Start commenced in 2002 and the initiative exists in 30 sites across Victoria; with six run in partnership with local Aboriginal communities. The Centre for Community Child Health currently provides support and training to all 30 Best
Start sites. Recently the Best Start program sharpened its focus to those children and families experiencing vulnerability, and to increasing the participation of all Aboriginal children. This new targeted focus helps to ensure these children have the opportunity to participate in quality early childhood
experiences through; kindergarten, Supported Playgroups, and maternal and child health services.
that children who attend quality preschool programs are more likely to arrive
at school ready to take advantage of the learning opportunities available to
“Investment in initiatives like Best
Start will contribute to a more prosperous future for all Victorians.” Sue West, Associate Director - Centre for Community Child Heath.
The initiative has also recently adopted an improvement approach to implementation, using rapid cycles to develop, test and measure small practice changes. As changes are shown to be successful, they are applied throughout a site. CCCH provides support and training to adopt this improvement approach by working with
each site’s facilitator through a series of workshops and coaching sessions aimed to build their capacity to lead the use of the approach with their community partnership.
This improvement approach also includes the use of evidence and data to more effectively identify and address barriers to participation in services, and to measure the results of the initiative. CCCH will co-design an online portal which will produce community data dashboards customisable for each site, and
co-develop data collection tools.
Associate Professor Moira Inkelas is the Assistant Director of the Child and Family Health Program at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a critical friend and adviser to the CCCH Best Start team.
Dr Inkleas hosted a webinar in March 2018 for the Best Start Innovation sites: Casey, Hume, Latrobe, and Njernda.
The webinar discusses and explores ‘moving from testing change ideas to implementation and spreading practice change’ based on Dr Inkelas' experience and the experience and questions from the CCCH team and the Best Start Innovation site facilitators. We invite you to watch/listen to the webinar recording below.
In December 2016 Associate Professor Moira Inkelas hosted a webinar for Best Start site facilitators.
The webinar explores ‘measuring improvement’ based on Dr Inkelas' experience in using quality improvement methodologies on changing systems in the USA. We invite you to watch/listen to the webinar recording below and view the slides.
Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos officially launched the program in October 2016.
Read the media release.
For more information on the Supporting Best Start – measurement and change program, contact
The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.