Children and families thrive in safe, connected communities.
Together, we support children’s and families’ learning, safety and wellbeing.
Our services exist to create positive change for children, families, and community. Children’s safety is always our priority. Our services are available to children and families in their home, in early childhood education centres and pre-schools, in community spaces and schools and other family-centred services.
We tune in
We listen, we seek to understand the needs of our children, families, people, and community. We are responsive to their lived experiences and to research in our field.
We build relationships. We believe that the best outcomes for children and their families come from respectful relationships and working together.
We show kindness
We are compassionate, gentle and think about the safety and wellbeing of others. Being kind often takes courage and strength to give honest feedback – being clear is kind.
We strive for social justice
We oppose inequality and challenge social injustice by removing barriers to our services and identifying ways to enable equity of access, inclusion and children’s rights.
We all walk together
We respect the lived experiences and heritage of Aboriginal peoples. We promote self determination. We are Culturally sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal children and their families.
We celebrate every child – their individuality, gifts, ideas, and culture. We focus on their well-being, strengths and what triggers their curiosity and delight.
We support families to access services that respond to their needs, creating pathways both across our services, and to other community agencies that can support them.
Connect is a Child Safe Organisation
Charter of Commitment to Children and Young People
At Connect Child and Family Services, we are committed to:
- Upholding the rights of each child as expressed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We model this in our practices and behaviours.
- Creating environments where children have a voice and feel they are heard. We promote the wellbeing of each child.
- Prioritising our child protection obligations. We integrate protective behaviours into our practices enabling each child to grow in their capacities to promote and protect their own wellbeing and safety. As mandatory reporters, we report harm, or signification risk of harm, to a child to senior colleagues in Connect and to the relevant authorities.
- Acknowledging children’s vulnerability, paying attention to each child and family. We are mindful of children’s lived experiences and aware of the impact of trauma on children’s behaviours and emotional well-being. We apply the best professional insights into child development and wellbeing.
- Building safe relationships with children and families, acknowledging that parents and families are the first and most important source of care and education in the life of a child. We notice signs that indicate they may need support and act to prevent the behaviours and situations that might put a child’s wellbeing or safety at risk.
- Working together and in partnership with families, knowing it takes the whole community to keep children safe.
Connect Children and Families is the Trading Name of Connect Child and Family Services. The organisation is a Company Limited by Guarantee, a registered charity and has Public Benevolent Institution Status. Our organisational Values drive our work and our commitment to serving children and families facing disability, disadvantage and experiencing vulnerability.
The organisation is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors are volunteers who are passionate about high quality services for children and their families. The Directors bring their experience and professional skills to bear on the development and guidance of the organisation’s Strategic Plan and ongoing governance and leadership of the organisation. The Chair of the Board, appointed in 2022, is Rosemary Bishop, an experienced Chair and leader of organisations in the community sector.
The Chief Executive, appointed by the Board in 2022, is Ann-Marie Ellott, an experienced organisational leader in services for children and families. Ann-Marie leads a team of three Senior Managers who oversee the implementation of service delivery quality, compliance, risk and finances as well as general business practices.
For more information please read our most recent Annual Report.
Reconciliation Action Plan
Our journey began in July 2019 with a smoking ceremony and a working group of very keen and committed staff members from Connect. The working group came from all walks of life and roles within our diverse team. We have solidly committed to the process of a Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) process and support. Through the RAP core pillars of relationship, respect and opportunities, we have navigated where we as an organisation are and strive to be. We completed phase one, ‘Reflect’, in 2021 and will now begin the next phase ‘Innovate’. It has allowed us the opportunity to tune in, learn, share and celebrate Aboriginal Cultures and understanding. We have enshrined in our organisations’ core value of ‘We all walk together’ by respecting the lived experience and heritage of Aboriginal peoples, promoting self-determination and to be culturally sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal Children and families we walk alongside them.
Origins - Local women responding to the needs of children and families
Connect Children and Families began in Katoomba in 1981 as Possum Early Intervention Playgroup Service. This was set up by community professionals on a voluntary basis to meet the need of families seeking support for their young children before school. Over time Possum Early Intervention Playgroup became Possum Early Childhood Centre, in response to the community need for an inclusive early childhood education program.
Transition to school funded
In 2004 Connect was granted a five year contract to support the children and families across the Nepean/Blue Mountains and Western Sydney Region with their transition to school.
Hazelwood Early Childhood Centre joins
Hazelwood Early Childhood Centre, based in Hazelbrook, had been in operation for over 30 years. The Centre joined Connect in 2011 and was the beneficiary of a collaborative project between the Commonwealth Government and Blue Mountains Council to totally rebuild the centre in 2014.
YAWN volunteer program begins
Coordinated community volunteers supporting Mums with babies in their homes.
Heatherbrae in Lawson is opened as a ‘drop in’ child and family service.
Possum’s Patch Early Childhood Centre joins
Possums Patch, Mount Victoria joined Connect in 2014. It has served the Mt Victoria, Hartley, Mt Wilson and Blackheath communities for over 10 years before that.
Lapstone Pre-School and Early Intervention Service joins
To extend and enhance the services to children before school and those children with a development delay and/or disability. Lapstone merged with Connect having been in operation for almost 50 years.
Bunya Early Childhood Centre joins
Bunya Early Childhood Centre based in Winmalee joined Connect in early 2023. Bunya Early Childhood Centre has been a staple service supporting the families of Winmalee, Hawkesbury Heights and Springwood for over 30 years.