Peers & Play

St Anthony’s Family Care (SAFC) has been a vital part of the community for over 70 years and the childcare centre has been it’s longest running service. While programs may have changed to better meet community needs, SAFC’s commitment to supporting children and families has been unwavering and remains core to our mission.

In 1974, St Anthony’s began providing childcare services to families living in Croydon and the surrounding suburbs. Children of parents needing relief were welcomed, with first priority going to poorer families who needed the additional support offered by the Sisters of St Joseph.

By 1979, St Anthony’s Home had obtained a licence to operate a childcare centre and services formally began.

After many years of service and following feedback from the community and parents, an inclusive early childhood service began in 2007 when the Special Preschool and the mainstream childcare centre were merged.

Over the past 15 years, the Early Learning Centre has evolved and continues to work towards providing programs that acknowledge each child’s strengths while also helping to support the development of new skills, particularly where children have a diagnosed disability or developmental delay. This support is provided through the ‘Peers & Play’ program.

The Peers & Play program helps to ensure that children receive the additional support they require so they can actively participate within the mainstream care environment and learn alongside their typically developing peers.

This year Figtree Early Learning Centre has been delighted to welcome back the Ahmed family. In
2017, SAFC first met Lana Ahmed who had been referred to St Anthony’s after it became clear that she was not reaching her developmental milestone and required the additional supports provided at St Anthony’s.

Lana had been diagnosed with a Global Developmental Delay (GDD), and in partnerships with her family and other allied health professions, work began to help strengthen Lana’s motor skills, communication, and self-help skills.

During the 3 years that Lana was part of the Peers & Play program she was able to make significant progress as she developed the ability to feed herself independently, began walking and was able to communicate choices with support. St Anthony’s was also key in helping to ensure Lana was able to experience a positive transition to school so that her education could continue as she moved to kindergarten.

When the Ahmed family recently discovered that their son, Mustafa, also needs additional support, they knew exactly where to go to find the help needed. Mustafa’s mum contacted the Manager of Figtree Early Learning Centre and enrolled her son.

Now within our brand-new state of the art childcare centre, the Figtree team is working in partnership with Mustafa’s family to support him to achieve his individual goals while at the same time having the opportunity to make those important connections with children his age.

For many parents, Figtree Early Learning Centre is the preferred service as families have confidence that programs offered can meet the needs of their child through dedicated educators working in partnership with families.

St Anthony’s and Figtree are proud of both our achievements to date and our commitment to the ongoing support of children with disabilities as they participate in the Peers & Play program.

This program is only possible due to the support of our donors and benefactors as the cost of the additional staff required to meet the individual needs of children is met through your generous

Teresa Petrone

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