More support for maternal child health

CITY of Ballarat is welcoming extra support for parents who need it most under state expansion plans to enhance maternal and child health services.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $81.1 million packed to help bridge the gap for families needing the intensive support. The program previously cut out after one year and left parents without extra guidance as they prepared their child for kindergarten.

City of Ballarat community development director Neville Ivey said it was unclear exactly how much funding Ballarat would receive, or how it might develop the region’s programs.

However, Mr Ivey said the move was a positive step, with any added support allowing programs to be more flexible in their approach to helping parents for as long as needed, rather than just the first year of the child’s life.

The universal maternal child and health service, co-funded by council and state government, provides 10 appointments for key health, well-being and developmental stages for a child is aged 3.5 years.

The enhanced program, funded by the state government, helps parents who need extra support, including those with babies born prematurely, twins and triplets, or vulnerable families to help more children get a good start in life.

Mr Ivey said Ballarat’s enhanced program helps link in with other appropriate support agencies in town.

Structured playgroups have a focus on connectivity and parenting skills, helping parents realise they were not alone, and to encourage greater independence and confidence.

Ballarat parents can move back into the universal maternal child and health program when they feel ready.

In another key element of the state government package, there will be additional Maternal Child Health outreach visits for those at-risk of family violence.

Nurses will also get training in the latest techniques and practices to support families, including those struggling with trauma.

The Maternal and Child Health Line will get additional funding to respond to parents’ concerns over the phone.