Early learning access for Tasmanian children

TACSI was invited by the Department of Education in Tasmania to facilitate a co-design process with families and early childhood education and care service providers in five Tasmanian locations to shape the Working Together for Three Year Olds (WT3) opportunity.

WT3 is a Tasmanian Government initiative which is opening up opportunities for eligible three-year-old children to participate in free, quality early learning. In 2019 WT3 is being piloted with service partners across five Tasmanian locations, opening up 50 places in 12 early learning centres.

The background

Each year, there are approximately 2,500 three years olds in Tasmania who do not access centre-based early learning. Many children cannot access these opportunities due to barriers such as cost; access to transport; and parents and carers experiencing anxiety, depression and fear of judgement.

Our approach

TACSI worked in partnership with the Department of Education in Tasmania, Clear Horizons and The Tasmanian Council of Social Services (TasCOSS) to break down some of these barriers and make early learning more accessible for three-year olds.

We took an evidence-based co-design approach to build a program with families that works for families. Building on the principle that people and communities have the wisdom and lived experience to play an active role in decisions that affect them by working in partnership with families, children, early childhood education and care service providers and communities.

Outcomes

We facilitated co-design sessions in five locations in December 2018. These sessions brought together children, families and early learning providers to develop relationships, explore ‘how might we’…? ‘and ‘what if’…?’questions and test some initial ideas of what the program could look like, and deepen our shared understandings. The summary report from the sessions is available to read here.

We captured what’s important for families and service partners, and from that built prototypes to test through a 4-month pilot period. We also created support tools and built the co-design capability of service partners to deliver the initiative through the pilot period, including strategies on how to better engage families.

What’s next

The next phase of the project includes a pilot period where the program will be tested in five locations across Tasmania. In this phase a range of prototypes will be tested with the service partner(s) and families. The findings from the pilot process will support the design of the broader roll-out of the initiative in 2020.