Firstchance, a not-for-profit organisation based at the University of Newcastle's Special Education Centre, will launch a new initiative designed to improve speech and language development in young Indigenous children.
Firstchance's early intervention program for children with special needs has received $800,000 for this new initiative, plus an additional $400,000 to extend an existing program for babies.
The funding totalling $1.2 million is part of the NSW Government Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care's Extending Early Childhood Initiative.
Director of the Special Education Centre, Associate Professor Michael Arthur-Kelly, said Firstchance would work with staff from Awabakal early childhood services to implement the new initiative - Little Yarns.
"The staff will work alongside a speech pathologist and an early intervention teacher to enhance their skills and confidence in working with children who have additional needs.
"Little Yarns will provide culturally appropriate speech and language remediation for Indigenous children within their own community."
Associate Professor Arthur-Kelly said Firstchance would also extend the Babies Program - an existing early childhood intervention program for families of babies aged 0 - 12 months.
"The Babies Program is very similar to a supported play group. Parents and staff - a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, family worker and teachers - work together to monitor and support the overall development of the child and the well being of the family."
Firstchance staff will be working with a clinical supervisor from Hunter New England Health in managing and delivering this program which will be evaluated over four years.
Firstchance's early childhood intervention program recognises the family as the most important influence on the child and strives to support families to bring out the best in their child.