MacKillop launches early parenting program to support young mums

Posted on 16 Jun 2017

Vulnerable young mothers living in Melbourne’s inner east and regional Victoria’s Loddon and Ovens Murray areas are set to benefit from an intensive education program providing them with critical support before and after the birth of their child.

The state government’s Cradle to Kinder initiative has launched in the three regions, targeting young mothers and their children with support that starts before birth and continues until the child is aged four.

In Melbourne’s inner east, the program will be provided by MacKillop Family Services (“MacKillop”), in partnership with Mercy Health, while in the Loddon region the program will be provided by MacKillop in partnership with Bendigo Community Health Services and CatholicCare Sandhurst. In Ovens Murray, MacKillop has partnered with Gateway Health to provide the program.

MacKillop CEO, Dr Robyn Miller said Cradle to Kinder would provide young pregnant women with information to build their parenting skills and aimed to break the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage often seen in vulnerable young families.

“A child’s health, safety and development can be influenced by many different experiences during pre-birth and in the early years of their life,” said Dr Miller. “We know effective, caring support in the early months and years of a child’s life is so important for their healthy development.

“Family issues like poverty, insecure housing, intellectual disability, family violence, alcohol or other drug misuse can have a profound effect on a child’s home environment. Cradle to Kinder connects mothers to community services that provide resources to improve their life, and that of their child. We want to empower young mums to take responsibility for giving their child the best possible start to their lives.”

Cradle to Kinder targets pregnant women aged under 25 who are Aboriginal, have a learning disability or live in emergency accommodation. The program places young mothers experiencing difficult personal, family or social issues with a dedicated support team who assists them access parenting, childcare, educational and social services.

Gateway Health CEO, Leonard Peady and Bendigo Community Health Services CEO, Kim Sykes have welcomed the program, citing it as one of the first of its kind for regional Victoria.

Both Mr Peady and Ms Sykes looked forward to working with MacKillop and local organisations to provide families with the best chance of achieving real change.

“This is an exciting partnership which has the potential to change lives and we feel privileged to play a role,” said Ms Sykes.

Mercy Health O’Connell Family Centre Manager, Kerri McEgan has also welcomed the partnership.

“Our staff are skilled to work with young mothers who have experienced great challenges in their own childhood,” Ms McEgan said. “In partnering with these families we aim to build their capacity and confidence to connect with and parent their own children in a positive way.”

Access to Cradle to Kinder is through Child FIRST with referral from local GPs and health, disability or Aboriginal care services.             

About MacKillop Family Services

MacKillop supports children and young people in care through foster care and youth residential homes. MacKillop also provides parenting and family support, programs for people with a disability to support them to connect to their community, youth homelessness support, and education programs for young people unable to learn under mainstream education models. 

For further information contact:

Anna Masci
Communications Manager
T: 03 9257 2317 M: 0428 029 012