Supported Playgroups are initiated and led by a paid coordinator/ facilitator. This role is often taken up by the agency worker or human service professional. These playgroups target families who might not normally access a community playgroup. Users are typically families who need additional support – whether they have a CALD background, are Indigenous families, have a member living with a disability, are teenage parents, or are parents who are experiencing various forms of broader social exclusion eg homeless families, or families with a parent experiencing mental health or substance use issues.
Intensive Support Playgroups are playgroups with a therapeutic outcome for children and families which contribute to increased child safety and well-being. A playgroup coordinator with therapeutic qualifications, a family support worker and peer support person provide extensive intervention to assist families by modelling parenting behaviour, providing enriched early childhood environments and by building linkages to community services. These therapeutic playgroups target clients with highly complex vulnerabilities.
SSupported Playgroup facilitators
Supported playgroup facilitators are usually employed for 4 -6 hours a week to manage and facilitate a supported playgroup. This allows 2 hours per week for contact time at the playgroup and additional hours for preparation and follow up. Most Playgroup facilitators have tertiary qualifications and/or considerable experience in early childhood, community development, social work or a field relative to the target group of the families. It is essential to hold a current working with Children’s Check. The main duties of a supported playgroup facilitator are to:
- Engage and support families and their children so that they can enjoy a safe and supportive playgroup experience.
- Build trust and consistent relationships with parents/caregivers and children.
- Empower families to self manage their playgroup through support, modelling and transference of skills.
- Demonstrate and offer advice on implementing suitable play experiences in line with family expectations and children’s developmental needs. Demonstrate play experiences that meet children’s developmental needs and family expectations.
- Model and encourage appropriate behaviour guidance for children
- Create opportunities to discuss parenting and family issues within the program.
- Follow up issues raised by families.
- Create ways to involve and engage the whole family.
- Connect families to other community parenting services e.g. Maternal and Child Health, as opportunities arise.
Read a sample position description for a Supported Playgroup Facilitator here
SStandards of practice for Supported Playgroups
Playgroup Victoria has identified a number of elements that can be used to identify best practice in supported playgroups. Whilst the objectives of supported playgroups vary slightly according to the particular needs of the target community, this guide provides a summary of common elements of best practice in supported playgroups. The guide can be used by practitioners to guide practice and by funding bodies to assess supported playgroup funding applications. Download the Standards of practice for Supported Playgroups here
Child Safe Standards
In December 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed legislation which aims to improve the way organisations prevent and respond to child abuse in Victoria. Victoria has introduced compulsory minimum standards that will apply to organisations that provide services for children to help protect children from all forms of abuse.
The child safe standards form part of the Victorian Government’s response to the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry. The standards aim to drive cultural change in organisations that provide services for children so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in everyday thinking and practice.
The child safe standards will apply to organisations from 1 January 2016 in phases:
Phase 1: Organisations regulated or funded by government that provide services for children will be required to work towards compliance with the standards from 1 January 2016
Phase 2: Organisations that provide services for children that have limited or no funding or regulatory relationship with government will be required to comply from 1 January 2017
These standards will apply to supported playgroups, roster playgroups and playgroups that engage volunteers. Playgroup Victoria is currently working to interpret the standards and will keep the sector informed of the implications for playgroups and provide support and resources to become Child Safe. Read more about the Child Safe standards here
Early Childhood student placements in playgroups
Many educational institutions, such as Kangan Institute of TAFE and Victoria University are now placing Early Childhood students in playgroups for field placement. For further information or to discuss a possible placement in a playgroup, or with Playgroup Victoria, please contact email@example.com