NSW Government initiatives to support child development

The NSW Government is giving children the best start in life by providing parents and families with the right information at the right time, improved universal services and targeted support.

The first 2000 days of a child’s life set the stage for their lifelong health, wellbeing and learning. The brain develops more rapidly, and we learn faster at this critical time than any other in our lives – with positive connections and experiences laying the foundations for a bright future.

What we're doing

Brighter Beginnings is a whole-of-government initiative to give children the best start in life. It aims to:

  • provide families with the information they need, when they need it empowering them with clear, reliable and timely information to make their decisions
  • improve universal services that lift the standard of opportunity for all – facilitating full participation in universal health, education and family services
  • target support and services for families that need it most – improve existing services and deliver evidence-based supports for families with additional needs.
Health and development checks 

We are bringing health and development checks into NSW preschools in partnership with health professionals from 2023.

Almost half of all 4 year old children do not get their recommended health and development checks, meaning thousands of parents are missing out on important information about their child’s development.

Making these checks available in preschool settings will make it easier for parents and children to access these important checks and help them ensure the best start in life for their child. 

Pregnancy Family Conferencing

The Pregnancy Family Conferencing program supports expectant parents and their families where there are concerns about the safety and wellbeing of an unborn child. The program provides early intervention to help families plan for a successful start in their parenting journey and keep mothers and their children together.
The Pregnancy Family Conferencing service is currently operating in 6 metropolitan sites throughout Greater Sydney. This new funding will enable the service to reach more families across the state.

Sustaining NSW Families

Sustaining NSW Families is a health home visit program which helps strengthen the relationships between children and parents and/or carers; builds parenting capacity; and enhances child development, wellbeing and health.

The service is offered to identified families, including mothers, who are experiencing anxiety or depression, and families experiencing circumstances which are known to have an unfavourable impact on the family. It is led by specially trained Child and Family Health nurses. 

Sustaining NSW Families currently operates in 9 locations across NSW. This new funding will enable us to increase the number of families benefitting from the program to help them give their child the best start in life. 

Aboriginal Family and Child Centres

Aboriginal Child and Family Centres provide key culturally safe services and supports for Aboriginal families with children aged 0-8 years. They deliver early childhood education and care, parent and family support, maternal and child health advice, and adult education opportunities. The aim is to provide a seamless experience for children and families and improved access to critical services.
Aboriginal Family and Child Centres in NSW are operated by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and are tailored to the local needs of families and communities.
We will increase support for the 9 existing culturally safe services and supports for Aboriginal families with children aged 0-8 years and build additional centres, to ensure more communities have access to these important services.
New locations will be informed by community consultation and community need. 

Digital Baby Book 

NSW Health is working on a long-term plan to develop the existing Child Personal Health Record or Baby Book (commonly referred to as “The Blue Book”) into a single, secure and comprehensive, digital health record.

A Digital Baby Book will give parents easier access to, and better control over, their child’s health information. This will support holistic, lifetime-improved health outcomes for their child.

Parents will be able to access the record of their child's developmental milestones via a new NSW Health app from the middle of 2023.

The Blue Book is given to all parents in NSW soon after the birth of their baby. It is a place to record the child’s health, growth, development, illnesses, injuries and immunisations. The Blue Book also recommends parents take their child to a Child and Family Health Centre or their doctor for routine health checks from birth until about 4 years of age.

Currently, parents or carers must carry this vital information with them between various healthcare appointments, but these books can be forgotten or misplaced, making it difficult for healthcare providers to access the information needed to provide safe, high-quality care at the time of presentation.

The health checks are important as they help parents and health professionals track the development of a child and pick up any potential problems. 
A Digital Baby Book will ensure these vital records are never lost and easily accessible when needed. 

Why we're doing this

The first 2000 days of life, from conception to around the time a child starts school, is a critical time for physical, cognitive, social and emotional health. What happens in the first 2000 days of life has been shown to have an impact throughout a person’s entire life, across all phases of life and between generations.

Assisting children and families to thrive in the early years leads to better long term life outcomes. In the future, this early support will mean greater equity of opportunity for all to participate in society, the workforce and to contribute to NSW.

There are many factors that impact on a child’s development. Some are genetic, some are environmental. They include individual, parent, environmental and community factors. We already have good evidence for services and supports that have been shown to improve children’s health and developmental outcomes. More evidence emerges daily on practices to better support children and their families.

We have heard you tell us the system is difficult to navigate. The evidence provides more guidance than ever before to improve how service providers and communities can better support parents and carers. We seek to support individuals who are parents and carers now, will be parents in the future, or who are supporting parents to raise children so that children achieve the best of their capacity.

Our vision

We are committed to giving every child in NSW the best start in life.

Making sure more children are developmentally on track when they start school is the first step to achieving full participation and lifetime health, education, social and economic benefits. A connected approach will drive better outcomes for children across every decade of their life and across generations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s lives. It has proven how resilient NSW is and highlighted further opportunities for Brighter Beginnings to improve and modernise how we deliver services.

The health, wellbeing, safety and prosperity of our community is paramount. Brighter Beginnings is committed to supporting families on the road to social and economic recovery and making NSW the best state to raise a child.

Our approach

Identifying the shared goals and needs of parents and carers is at the heart of our approach. Families were engaged to understand what they need and how we can better support them during these early years of a child's life. 

We’re mapping your experiences of the service system so that we can make your connection with services smoother and more valuable in the first 2000 days of your child’s life.

By understanding this better, we will have:

  • a comprehensive view of your experiences across multiple government and non-government interactions 
  • a greater ongoing understanding of your needs and policy impacts
  • identified opportunities to significantly improve your experience, and improve quality of life for the citizens of NSW
  • co-designed opportunities for improved service delivery in ways that best meet your needs.

We are working collaboratively across human services agencies to draw on the breadth of expertise and continue to grow the evidence base to improve outcomes for children and their families. We are looking to partner with local agencies, communities, the Australian Government and other jurisdictions to ensure we continuously innovate and improve how we provide and how you access early childhood services across NSW.

For professionals

Catch up on all the 2022 Brighter Beginnings First 2000 days summit

The Brighter Beginnings First 2000 days summit was a 2 day event on 31 October and 1 November, sharing the latest research and evidence on programs that support children and their families in the early years. A recording is now available.

For professionals

Join the Early Childhood Health and Development Community of Practice

The purpose of the ComPrac is to expand and build networks across government agencies, the early childhood health and development sector, academia and philanthropies working to improve childhood development outcomes. 

Top of page