Early Years Program

CPS supports vulnerable children and families through the provision of a broad range of tailored, high quality early education and care programs.   Our innovative Early Years programs are delivered and built upon CPS’ long-standing experience in working with vulnerable children and families.

Programs include a Child & Family Centre for vulnerable children and families, supported playgroups, a client based school holiday program and a new universal childcare centre.


Without early intervention, they are likely to face lifelong struggles to participate and contribute at a family, community and society level.

West Heidelberg Child & Family Centre

Early Childhood

The CPS Child and Family Centre is a new model Early Education and Child Care Service that has been set up to target vulnerable children aged 0 – 5 years old who are at risk.

There is no other centre like this in Australia. The aim of the program is to support children to realise their full potential and arrive at school developmentally and educationally equal to their peers. CPS has designed the model to address both the lack of access to early education by vulnerable children, with a strong evidence base of the benefits of intensive high quality early education and childcare for those children.

Children who participate in this service receive five days per week of high‐quality early education and childcare totalling at least 25 hours per week.

Particular features of the program are: high staff/child ratios, diploma qualified staff, enriched care giving, high quality curriculum based education based on the new National Early Year Learning Frameworks, integration with Family Support/Child Protection services and a strong focus on building partnerships with parents to sustain their child’s participation in the program

Participation in the program lasts for a minimum of three years or until a child reaches school age.

ACECQA tickThe CPS Child and Family Centre program is the subject of a Randomised Controlled Trial with Melbourne University Department of Economics and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. The aim is to test the impact of this kind of education and care on vulnerable children’s long‐term social and educational outcomes. See CPS Research section for further information.

The Centre itself has twice been awarded the coveted ‘Excellent’ rating by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), most recently in June 2017. This is the first and only early learning service in Victoria to be re-awarded the benchmark and one of only 52 services across Australia (out of 13,500 rated centres). Only seven of the 52 have been re-awarded by ACECQA.

Supported Playgroups

Play Box Playgroup

A supported, facilitated playgroup for young families with vulnerable children (< 5yo), the Playbox Playgroup has been run in partnership with Banyule Community Health (BCH) for more than five years. In 2012 CPS partnered with Uniting Care ReGen to extend the reach of this successful, well-attended initiative.

The playgroup features organised music sessions, morning tea and excursions, in addition to liaising with visiting community nurses, speech therapists, dietitians and other allied health professionals.   

The purpose of the Playbox Supported Playgroup is to enhance the development and wellbeing of children and families by providing a child centred space with a focus on engagement and play. The positive parenting support also includes integrated service delivery to families that have complex needs, connecting them to their local community and services.

Shine & Grow

Holiday programFunded via a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Shine & Grow is a supported playgroup (<5yo) run in partnership with Berry Street.

Attending families may have experienced family violence, social isolation, inter-generational disadvantage, mental health, trauma and/or disability.

The aim of Shine & Grow is to foster and promote positive parent-child interaction, improve parent/caregiver play skills and connection with their children, and address social isolation. The playgroup provides ideas for activities and play that can be replicated at home with household items or inexpensive resources, enhancing parent-child interactions in the home setting.  

Shine & Grow’s educational component fosters child development through various ages and stages, the importance of play, child health, and parenting strategies. With the aid of guest speakers, primary health and community services are also promoted, including Maternal and Child Health, kindergartens, libraries, allied health services and other community supports. This provides CPS with an opportunity to assess and identify participant families’ needs and link them with appropriate community services.

Shine & Grow’s focus on improved parenting skills and confidence has empowered vulnerable children and families with more resilience and connectedness whilst reducing their social isolation.