Another 150 children at five more Illawarra pre-schools will start to benefit from a unique mobile speech therapy service with support from the Greater Building Society.
Bulli Community Preschool, Bright Beginnings Childcare & Early Learning Centre in Wollongong, Centenary Hill Preschool in Albion Park, Tattle Tales Preschool in Tarrawanna and Tiny Tots Early Learning Centre at Woonona are the latest pre-schools to be selected for the KidzSpeak mobile speech therapy service.
An Australian first, the service was developed and is run by Illawarra based charity, KidzWish, and funded by the Greater Charitable Foundation. Pre-school teachers start under the guidance of a KidzSpeak speech pathologist until they are more confident and aware of activities they can do to help develop communication skills in young children.
KidzSpeak senior speech pathologist Jo Collier said that since it was established in 2012 the service has directly helped more than 450 children across 12 centres. Ms Collier said the service had a positive flow on effect to hundreds more children who either attend the preschools on days when the service does not visit or who newly enrol after the service has finished at a school because staff and parents continue to use the strategies and resources provided by KidzSpeak.
She said a blog and facebook page had been developed to help all teachers and parents share the KidzSpeak tips and resources.
Ms Collier said that studies indicate between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of children in local preschools have communication difficulties. She said there are long wait times for public speech therapy services.
“We are giving kids, their parents, and preschool staff speech tools and resources to help them to create a language rich environment at the preschool,” Ms Collier said.
A total of nine staff from the Greater’s Illawarra branches have volunteered for the program.
Greater Charitable Foundation, which is funded from the profits of Greater Building Society, has provided $515,000 from 2012 to 2014 to establish and support the development of KidzSpeak. The service received a boost this month with the State Government providing $174,000 over 18 months to extend it to children with a disability.
Other centres that have run the KidzSpeak service over the past two years
- Bellambi Point Community Preschool
- Pioneer Road Long Day Care
- Warilla Child Care Centre
- Charlotte’s Web Child Care
- Cringila Children’s House
- Little Peoples Early learning Centre Lake Heights
- Towradgi Long Day Care Centre
- Coolgardie Children’s Centre
- Warilla Preschool & Occasional Care
- GoodStart Early Learning Centre Kanahooka
- Little Peoples Early Learning Centre Berkeley
- Happy Kids Child Care Centre Unanderra