Brighter Beginnings

Video: Brighter Beginnings

An animated explanation of Brighter Beginnings

More than one million neural connections form every second in the first few years of life. In our first 2,000 days, from prenatal to age five, the brain develops more rapidly and we learn faster than at any other time. Providing children with positive connections and experiences can lay the foundations for lifelong health, wellbeing, and learning.

To give families more support, we are investing more than $376 million to grow the Brighter Beginnings initiative. We are expanding a range of programs supporting families and children from prenatal to age five, like a nurse home visit program, new Digital Baby Book, expanded Aboriginal Child and Family Centres, and offering parents and carers health and development checks for children at early learning services.

Because every child deserves the best start in life. Every child, everywhere.

The Early Years Commitment. Brighter Beginnings, Big Futures.

Find out more on our website or follow us on Facebook.

Children's development is a collective responsibility

$376.5 million is committed over 4 years from 2023, to expand the suite of evidence-based programs targeting child development at all prenatal to age 5 life stages.

Through the Brighter Beginnings initiative, government agencies work together with education, health and social service professionals to take collective responsibility for ensuring the best life outcomes for every child in NSW.

Brighter Beginnings is an integral part of the Early Years Commitment, and we are focused on improving services so families get the support they need, when they need it.

The expanded suite of Brighter Beginnings programs includes:

Health and development checks

$111.2 million

We are bringing health and development checks into NSW preschools in partnership with health professionals from 2023.

Almost half of all 4 year old children do not get their recommended health and development checks, meaning thousands of parents are missing out on important information about their child’s development.

Making these checks available in preschool settings will make it easier for parents and children to access these important checks and help them ensure the best start in life for their child.

We will start by focusing on stakeholder engagement and co-design of the program’s model so it is fit for purpose and is something the ECEC sector, families and children will benefit from.

In the second phase, we will test different concepts and refine a small number of models to trial in select services in late 2022. Our aim is to roll this program out in 2023 with a view to expand state-wide in 2024.

Pregnancy Family Conferencing

$38.6 million

The Pregnancy Family Conferencing program supports expectant parents and their families where there are concerns about the safety and wellbeing of an unborn child. The program provides early intervention to help families plan for a successful start in their parenting journey and keep mothers and their children together. 

The Pregnancy Family Conferencing program is currently operating in 6 metropolitan sites throughout Greater Sydney. This new funding will enable the service to reach more families across the state.

Sustaining NSW Families

$70.9 million

Sustaining NSW Families is a health home visit program which helps strengthen the relationships between children and parents and/or carers; builds parenting capacity; and enhances child development, wellbeing and health.

The service is offered to identified families, including mothers, who are experiencing anxiety or depression, and families experiencing circumstances which are known to have an unfavourable impact on the family. It is led by specially trained Child and Family Health nurses.

Sustaining NSW Families currently operates in 9 locations across NSW. This new funding will enable us to increase the number of families benefitting from the program to help them give their child the best start in life.

Aboriginal Child and Family Centres

$98.7 million

Aboriginal Child and Family Centres provide key culturally safe services and supports for Aboriginal families with children aged 0-8 years. They deliver early childhood education and care, parent and family support, maternal and child health advice, and adult education opportunities. The aim is to provide a seamless experience for children and families and improved access to critical services.

Aboriginal Child and Family Centres in NSW are operated by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and are tailored to the local needs of families and communities.

Under Brighter Beginnings, we will increase support for the 9 existing Aboriginal Child and Family Centres and build additional centres, to ensure more communities have access to these important services.

New locations will be informed by community consultation and community need.

Digital Baby Book

$57.2 million

NSW Health is working on a long-term plan to develop the existing Child Personal Health Record or Baby Book (commonly referred to as “The Blue Book”) into a single, secure and comprehensive, digital health record.

A Digital Baby Book will give parents easier access to, and better control over, their child’s health information. This will support holistic, lifetime-improved health outcomes for their child.

Parents will be able to access the record of their child's developmental milestones via a new NSW Health app from the middle of 2023.

The Blue Book is given to all parents in NSW soon after the birth of their baby. It is a place to record the child’s health, growth, development, illnesses, injuries and immunisations. The Blue Book also recommends parents take their child to a Child and Family Health Centre or their doctor for routine health checks from birth until about 4 years of age.

Currently, parents or carers must carry this vital information with them between various healthcare appointments, but these books can be forgotten or misplaced, making it difficult for healthcare providers to access the information needed to provide safe, high-quality care at the time of presentation.

The health checks are important as they help parents and health professionals track the development of a child and pick up any potential problems.

A Digital Baby Book will ensure these vital records are never lost and easily accessible when needed.

Lifelong benefits

Prior to the launch of Brighter Beginnings, families from diverse backgrounds were engaged to learn about their experience with services and supports during the first 2,000 days of their child’s life. Their suggestions for what their children need and want during this critical time were used to help create the Brighter Beginnings initiatives.

The expanded suite of Brighter Beginnings programs will deliver lifelong benefits for every child, and it will particularly benefit families who most need support.

Brighter Beginnings programs help families navigate through pregnancy and the early days of their children’s lives, with streamlined and easily accessible support, reminders, and access to health resources.

These programs will help increase the proportion of NSW children on track against the 5 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) domains by the time they start school, and they will contribute to NSW’s commitment to Closing the Gap by helping to meet the target of 55% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on track against the 5 AEDC domains by 2031.

Video: The First 2,000 Days

An animated explanation to the first 2,000 days

Your child's brain is made up of trillions of neurons, like stars in the night sky, just waiting to be connected. Family features are passed down through our genes but our experiences can really shape us too.

In the first 2000 days of life, from prenatal to age five, connections with family, healthy experiences and play-based education are all key to development. The brain develops more rapidly and we learn faster than at any other time in our lives, forming foundations for lifelong health, wellbeing and success.

We are expanding a range of Brighter Beginnings programs across health, social services and early childhood education and care, to give every child the best possible start in life.

The Early Years Commitment. Brighter Beginnings, Big Futures.

Find out more on our website or follow us on Facebook.

More information

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To provide feedback or ask us a question about the Early Years Commitment please contact:

Early Years Commitment team

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