What is the Early Years Infrastructure Plan?

    The Early Years Infrastructure Plan is a plan for the buildings and spaces where services are provided for children aged 0-6 and families. The Plan aims to provide Council with a long-term strategy to make sure that children and families in Darebin have equitable access to high quality early years services in fit for purpose buildings and outdoor spaces. This is important so that all children and families get the services they need to thrive.

    Why is Council developing an Early Years Infrastructure Plan?

    Council plays an important role in planning for, providing and maintaining high quality early years facilities to ensure that families have access to the services they need. It is important to have a long-term plan for these facilities. Council last developed an Early Years Infrastructure Plan in 2011. Big changes such as population growth, the introduction of funded kindergarten for three-year-olds and other changes to policy and funding mean that it is now time to develop a new Early Years Infrastructure Plan. This new plan will support our planning for the next 20 years.  

    What are the early years?

    The early years or early childhood are usually defined as the years from when a child is born to the age of 8.  It is widely recognised that these years of life are crucial to children’s health, development and learning, and provide the foundations for lifelong wellbeing. This means that high quality, inclusive and accessible services are very important for children of this age and their families. Although the early years is usually defined as lasting until 8 years of age, the draft Early Years Infrastructure Plan is focused on the services children and their families need from birth until the time they enter primary school. This is because Council plays a significant role in providing facilities for services children need in the years before they enter school.

    What services are covered by the plan?

    The main services that are included in the plan are maternal and child health services, kindergarten, long day care, occasional care, playgroups and toy libraries. Council also recognises that there are lots of other services that families with young children need and that some of these can be provided from the same facilities. We also recognise that facilities that are mainly used to provide early years services can also be used to provide services for other age groups. The principles and actions in the draft plan have been developed to reflect this broader view of the services and uses that early years infrastructure can support.

    How was the draft plan developed?

    The steps involved in developing the draft plan included:

    • Review of relevant literature.
    • Audit of legislation, building codes and design guidelines relating to the provision of early years facilities.
    • Review of current trends in the provision of early years facilities.
    • Analysis of the planning context in which early years facilities operate – legislative, policy and funding environment, demand factors, capacity factors.
    • Audit of the usage, condition and functionality of the Council owned early years facilities in the municipality.
    • Assessment of the capacity of existing Council and other facilities to meet current and future demand.       
    • Consultation with Council staff involved in the planning, management, maintenance and delivery of early year services and facilities.

    What will happen once the plan has been adopted?

    After Council adopts the Early Years Infrastructure Plan, a detailed Delivery Plan will be developed which will prioritise the actions contained in the Plan and outline timelines and responsibilities for the implementation of these agreed priorities. The Early Years Infrastructure Plan will be treated as a ‘living document’. It will be regularly reviewed as new information becomes available with a major review conducted at least every five years or as required.  

    Where can I find out more information about early years services in Darebin?

    Please visit the Children and families section of the Council website to find out about services for children and families in Darebin.