SRF Program

  • Early Learning is Fun (ELF) Play and Learn Groups

    VEYLDF Alignment

    Item uses these practice principles: High expectations for every child, Respectful relationships and responsive engagement.

    Item responds to these sub-outcomes: Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.


    Early Learning is Fun is a universal and a targeted early intervention and engagement program for vulnerable families with children aged from birth to five years. It was conceived in 2003 as a statewide education campaign to promote community and family awareness about the importance of learning and literacy in the early years.

    ELF focuses on the critical role of play in optimising children's development and enhancing healthy parent–child interactions.

    Detailed Costs

    Running an ELF playgroup program costs $98,453 per year.

    Implementation Considerations

    Target population: children and families experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage, including those from a refugee background, and children at risk of abuse and neglect in child protection and family support systems.

    Program/practice descriptions and details: ELF focuses on the critical role of play in optimising children's development and enhancing and growing healthy parent–child interactions.

    Supervision/coaching: ELF playgroups are facilitated by an experienced early childhood teacher and a social worker, both of whom are employed externally outside the kindergarten service. Existing teachers at a service can also be trained to co-facilitate the program.

    Staffing: services may need to consider how staff will organise their time to run the program, and the potential cost of extra working hours and backfill.

    Factors to consider: some services may identify several families that would benefit from the program. Running the program in a kindergarten setting, but out of session time, is most beneficial, as it helps to bring families into the kindergarten space.

    Australian experience: numerous ELF playgroups have run in Victoria in the past 15 years, most recently in Fitzroy, Lalor and Thomastown. The program has been rolled out by Berry Street in partnership with other service providers, including ECMS. Two groups are still running in Lalor and Thomastown, in partnership with ECMS as a universal service provider.

    Priority Area

    Wellbeing (social and emotional)

    Strength of Evidence

    Level 5 - Foundational research evidence