In navigating yet another challenging year, we would firstly like to thank the Board, staff and volunteers who enabled us to put children, young people and families first despite the frequent disruptions and testing times of the pandemic.
Our passionate and talented staff stepped up again this year, to work through implementing additional COVID-19 responses whilst continuing to support clients through our evidence informed educational, family and support services.
This year more than 21,000 hours of family support services were provided, and 800 little learners were enrolled in our Early Years services, getting the very best start to their education journey. These numbers are an increase on the previous year and in fact higher than pre-pandemic times. This represents growth in the reach and impact of our services and demonstrates the resilience of our Kids First team and their dedication to achieving our purpose to ensure all kids have the bright futures they deserve.
The ways in which we bring our purpose to life were solidified this year with the development of our new strategic plan. The plan provides a clear roadmap to maximise the scale and impact of our services and deftly respond to community need with evidence informed approaches and models of practice to bring about change. Technology is critical to our way forward and we are investing in people and systems that will enhance our ability to enable more programs to be accessed anytime and anywhere.
Delivering on our mission takes the combined effort of staff, volunteers, and Board members alike. At the end of November 2021, we farewelled Simon Hutchings, who was an integral part of our Kids First Board for over seven years. Simon was well known for his depth of financial expertise, and we thank him for his incredible contribution. In December 2021 we welcomed new Board Member, Simon Kent. Simon brings a wealth of experience from his vast work across social policy development and advocacy in government - in particular in education and early childhood. In February 2022, we then welcomed Paul McCarthy to our Board of Governance. Paul is a senior executive with broad financial and business experience and is well known to Kids First for his outstanding work on our Finance and Investment Committee.
Looking ahead to the new year we know there is still quite a lot of work to do to repair family relationships, with many children and families experiencing hardship or disadvantage before the pandemic now finding it tougher than ever. The rising cost of living has also put additional strains on already vulnerable families. We will continue to embed our family supports within Early Years services and advocate for more Early Help Hubs to make accessing help easier.
In 2021 our organisation marked 125 years since its formation. While we have operated through various guises since our origin in 1896 and the world is undeniably a very different place. One thing has not changed; the steadfast conviction that all kids deserve bright futures. It is our privilege and our passion to partner with families every day to help bring about bright futures and we intend on doing this for many years to come.