An early childhood program that is improving the lives of children in Benalla is being recognised and celebrated as being among the state’s best, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes announced Tomorrow Today Education Foundation as one of 20 Victorian Early Years Awards finalists, who are being recognised for their outstanding contributions to the early childhood education sector across the state.

The Tomorrow Today Education Foundation delivers Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) in Benalla to improve outcomes for local children. PEEP originates from the United Kingdom, specifically for families experiencing disadvantage to support them as their child’s first and most important educator. Parents/carers commit to attending at least one term of a weekly facilitated playgroup, in which songs, rhymes, stories and creative play are used to promote pre-literacy and numeracy skills. Children and parents also use this opportunity to socialise with other families.

The program is a collaborative, community effort, with over 60 partners, referrers and volunteers playing a role in its creation and delivery. During 2018, 15 sessions were delivered per week, attended by 222 families with 290 children.

Now in its 14th year, the Victorian Early Years Awards recognise the crucial work of early childhood professionals in helping young children to learn and thrive.

Award winners in each category will receive up to $15,000 to continue their exceptional work in kindergarten services, schools, local councils, Maternal Child and Health services and other early years organisations across the state.

The awards celebrate the achievements and commitment of early childhood professionals across seven award categories, including supporting parents and the early childhood teacher of the year.

Early childhood education is the foundation for lifelong wellbeing and learning, and the Labor Government is committed to expanding services delivered to children and their families.

Making Victoria the Education State starts with the early years. This is why, in an Australian first, the Labor Government is investing almost $5 billion over the next decade to deliver full 15 hours per week of funded three-year-old kindergarten programs, to be progressively rolled out from 2020.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 22 October at the National Gallery of Victoria.

For more details on this year’s finalists, see:

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education, James Merlino:

“The Victorian Early Years Awards are a great opportunity to recognise our early childhood professionals, and the inspiring work they do every day to set our youngest Victorians up for success in life.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“I wish to congratulate our fantastic early childhood professionals and programs, including every one of those recognised as finalists in this year’s Victorian Early Years Awards.”

“Every day, caring and passionate early childhood professionals and services work tirelessly in Benalla to help local families and children thrive and get the most out of their early education. Their dedicated work inspires all of us.”