Our Connect Early services and supports are for children from birth to five years and their caregivers. These include supported playgroups, support at home and support to connect with other services in the community, including early childhood education and care, family support, early intervention and disability services as well as transition to primary school.
We all know that being with young children can be joyful and fulfilling and it can be challenging and peppered with anxieties. The first 2000 days of children’s lives are the most important period for their brain growth and is a critical time for physical, cognitive, social and emotional health. What happens in the first 2,000 days has been shown to have an impact throughout life. Our team of skilled and caring professionals have worked with families with young children for many years and are here to support you and your family as you navigate the early stages of your little one’s life.
Connect and Nurture (CAN)
We recognise the challenges of caring for children birth to 3 years and know that support in the home can often make the world of difference during this period of a family’s life.
CAN offers a home-visiting service for a period of 6 months for families with children aged birth to 3 years who live in the Blue Mountains and Penrith LGA. Our volunteers are trained and matched with families, to provide support to families in their homes. This support could be:
- undertaking light duties around your home,
- engaging with siblings,
- sharing a cuppa and an encouraging word with a parent or a carer,
- Or mix of all of the above.
Support is provided for 2 hours per week for up to 6 months. Parents/carers stay with the volunteer at the home and its often this relationship that makes all the difference for a parent/carers’ wellbeing. Families and volunteers alike have expressed how rewarding it is for them both to be part of this program and feel connected to each other and the community.
CAN can also put families in touch with a dedicated Family Support Worker for immediate support and/or referral to a rich network of support services in our community.
We are always looking for volunteers to ensure we can provide support to as many families as possible. Perhaps you know of someone who would like to volunteer for Connect and Nurture?
Contact us on 02 4759 1462 and ask for the CAN program.
DADs and Kids Playgroup
Our Dads playgroup is at Heatherbrae at Lawson on a Saturday morning 10am -12pm and is loved by many Dads and their children.
We have experienced male group facilitators who ensure the smooth running of this program each week.
There is space to play, read a story, do some art and craft, talk and enjoy a coffee while connecting with other Dads. We know it’s important for dads to chat with other Dads about being a father/carer and a partner or just the chance to talk about everyday things.
If you would like to come along to Dad’s playgroup, please drop in or contact us on 02 4759 1462.
Heatherbrae is a warm and inviting place for parents and carers to come with their young children to play, to connect with other families, to talk and to be heard. There is a warm cuppa, something to eat, and a free and safe environment for you and your child at Heatherbrae.
We offer a drop-in service from 9.30am – 3pm Monday to Thursday, 9.30am – 12:00 pm on Fridays.
Our facilitators are there to offer you support, provide early childhood education information and resources and to engage with children in playful activities.
There are toys and resources to borrow, information on Connect’s range of services as well as information on other community services.
We partner with other services to facilitate specific groups for our community, for example, First time Parents and Carers Kin and Co. We have a Child and Family Health Nurse attend weekly on a Wednesday to connect with our families of young children.
Come in and say hello or contact us on 02 4759 146212:
Play and Chat Groups
Connect have faciliated Play and Chat Playgroups across the mountains for over 15 years. They are a regular part of family life for many families in our community. A place for parents and carers to meet with friends, where children can meet and play and learn new skills, where community information is shared and morning tea is available.
Led by experienced Playgroup Facilitators, the Play and Chat groups are held in local schools which also helps families and children become familiar with the school grounds and activities. We partner with Gateway Family Services to deliver to some of our groups and fun activities are always on offer.
The groups meet weekly across the week and across the region. All families and children of all abilities are welcome.
Come and join us at:
• Katoomba North Public – Monday and Tuesday mornings
• Katoomba Public – Thursday mornings
• Winmalee OOSH (Pinaroo) – Wednesday mornings
• Penrith South Public – Tuesday mornings
Please contact our Head office on 02 4758 9966 to find out more about times for each group.
Start Strong Pathways Programs
The Start Strong Pathways program offers early childhood educational experiences for young children prior to enrolment to an early childhood centre. The program strengthens the engagement of children within these services, and helps promote the importance of early childhood education to families. This funding is provided by the NSW Department of Education.
Why is Early Childhood Education so important:
When children participate in structured, play-based learning before they start school, they build key social, emotional and cognitive skills necessary to support lifelong learning. Research has shown that all children benefit from attending Early Childhood Education before starting school. This is particularly so for children experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage as it provides the opportunity for extra supports to be put in place before children are in the school setting.
Connect facilitates different programs under this funding to support these outcomes.
Transition to school program
Connect provide transition to school programs from early education into kindergarten for children and families in the Lithgow, Blue Mountains, Penrith, Hawkesbury and Western Sydney areas. The bespoke programs assist children and their families to have a positive start to school by offering supported playgroups facilitated by early childhood teacher/s and held in primary schools during terms 3 and/or 4. Children not accessing other prior-to-school services have priority of attendance.
Children and their families have the opportunity to experience the school environment gradually before starting Kindergarten. They may also be introduced to community agencies that provide them with information or services to help their child / family with any issues that might act as a barrier to successful transition to school. A positive start to school is one of the critical components of a childs’ lifelong learning.
Please call our Head Office on 02 4758 9966 or head to our website https://www.transitiontoschool.net/ to find out more about our Transition to school sessions.
“Without Heatherbrae, I honestly don’t know how I would have coped… I really struggled with a little baby and a boisterous 3-year-old.”
Parent - Heatherbrae