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Early Years Education Program

Early Years Education Program

Kids First's Child and Family Centre in Southern Road, Heidelberg West pioneered a new model of early education and child care service - the 'Early Years Education Program' (EYEP). The EYEP delivered through the Centre, was targeted to children from infancy to five years old who were experiencing significant family stress and social disadvantage. The aim of EYEP was to inspire greater participation in early years education and through its service offering, ensure that children arrived at school developmentally and educationally equal to their peers

The EYEP was unique in the Australian early years context. Features included:

  • high staff/child ratios
  • diploma qualified staff
  • enriched care giving
  • high quality curriculum based education based on the new National Early Year Learning Frameworks
  • integration with Family Support/Child Protection services
  • a strong focus on building partnerships with parents to sustain their child’s participation in the program.

Participation in EYEP lasted for a minimum of three years or until a child reached school age. 

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The Heidelberg West Centre was twice awarded the coveted ‘Excellent’ rating by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). At the time, it was the first and only early learning service in Victoria to be re-awarded the benchmark and one of only 52 services across Australia (out of 13,500 rated centres). 

While the Centre was closed in 2018, its legacy continues to expand through the streams of research that have been conducted around the EYEP.

Randomised Controlled Trial

The Early Years Education Program (EYEP) is an Australian-first randomised control trial, co-designed with early childhood experts and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. 

The Australian Research Council (ARC) funded the University of Melbourne Department of Economics to undertake a three-year study to provide insights into the developmental and social outcomes from providing high quality intensive early education and care to vulnerable children.

A series of research reports detail the significant impact the EYEP has had, on children (and their families) who participated in the program at the Heidelberg West Centre.

Changing the Life Trajectories of Australia’s Most Vulnerable Children (PDF reports)

  • Report no. 1: “Participants in the Trial of the Early Years Education Program” (2017) EYEP-Report-1-Participants.pdf
  • Report no. 2: “The first twelve months in the Early Years Education Program: An initial assessment of the impact on children and their primary caregivers” (2018) EYERP-Report-2-web.pdf
  • Report no.4: "24 months in the Early Years Education Program: Assessment of the impact on children and their primary caregivers" (2019) EYEP-Report-4-v4-forWeb.pdf


Qualitative Study

Charles Sturt University was engaged by Kids First to undertake a qualitative research study of the relationship pedagogy of Kids First pioneering EYEP.

The purpose of the ethnographic study was to examine the relationships and lived experiences of all EYEP participants (children, parents and staff), as well as describe, translate and disseminate the day to day activities of the education and care model. 

The final report was released in 2016;

Research Report
Kids First Executive Summary
Literature Review