Department of Health

Early Parenting Centres

Early Parenting Centres (EPCs) are a free primary health service that provide specialist support for Victorian families with children from birth to four years of age.

They deliver flexible, targeted services that aim to enhance the parent-child relationship and support parents with strategies to achieve their parenting goals.

These goals are often in areas such as:

  • sleep and settling
  • child behaviour
  • parent and child health and wellbeing.

The Victorian Government is investing $148 million to expand Victoria’s EPC network. The initiative will modernise and expand facilities run by two of our existing centres, and build and establish eight new centres.

Regional Victorian families will benefit from the first EPC facilities ever provided outside the metropolitan area, located in:

  • Geelong
  • Ballarat
  • Bendigo
  • Shepparton.

Our fastest growing suburbs will see facilities based in Casey, Frankston, Whittlesea and Wyndham.  

For more information about the construction of the new EPCs, visit the Victorian Health Building Authority website.

Outcomes framework

The Early Parenting Centres outcomes framework was developed by Monash University and the Queen Elizabeth Centre (QEC) with extensive input from over 100 key stakeholders. 

The outcomes framework maps the indicators and measures to be used across EPCs to ensure the expanded EPC network meets the needs of Victorian families and children.

It also includes an implementation plan that outlines strategies which will help EPCs put the framework into practice.

Strategic framework

The Expanding Victoria's Early Parenting Centre Network 2019-24 Strategic Framework outlines the significant expansion and reform of Victoria’s publicly funded early parenting centres.

It aims to provide a foundation for engagement and collaboration as we move forward with this important initiative for Victorian families.

The information in this framework will support this engagement process, ensuring that the new and expanded centres meet community needs and expectations as effectively as possible.

Model of Care

The Early Parenting Centre model of care was published in mid-2020, and describes how funded EPC services will be provided across Victoria.

It outlines the high-level purpose, eligibility, functions and role of EPCs in the health and wellbeing service network for children and families.

The model:

  • supports consistent, high-quality service
  • outlines the service specifications for commissioning new EPCs
  • provides flexibility for services to be tailored to local needs.

The model of care is an iterative document and will be updated based on feedback from EPCs, service users and key stakeholders.

How are Maternal Child Heath (MCH) services involved?

These new and upgraded EPCs form part of the Government's $213.7 million investment to provide parents with the information, extra support and care their family needs. This includes more enhanced maternal and child health home visits, and expansion of the 24-hour MCH phone line.

This will assist in the early resolution of parenting problems in order to boost healthy child development, parents' wellbeing and positive family functioning.

EPCs offer tiered support and are part of the continuum of support offered to parents via the MCH Line and the universal MCH and enhanced MCH programs.

Who can access these services?

All Victorian families with children from birth to four years who need more specialised or targeted support can access these services.

This includes those who need to:

  • strengthen parenting capacity and skills
  • enhance parent-child relationships
  • increase parental confidence in responding to their infant/toddlers needs
  • build on their family's link with their community.

Early Parenting Centres also offer a range of other education, programs and parenting advice. Refer to the EPC websites on this page for more information.

What services are available?

EPCs are funded to provide:

  • Residential: 24-hour multi-day centre-based intensive early parenting programs.
  • Day stay: centre-based day programs provided at EPCs or at outreach locations.
  • Group services: group-based programs attended by families, which are designed to improve parent-child relationships and interaction.

How can families access their local early parenting centre?

Referrals to EPCs are usually from maternal and child health services, maternity services, general practitioners, Child FIRST (Child and Family Information Referral and Support Team) and Child Protection.

Early Parenting Centre services are currently provided by:

These centres operate several satellite services across the state. Please contact the centres for more information.

More information

For information for families, visit Early Parenting Centres support families on the Better Health Channel.

Reviewed 27 January 2023

Health.vic

Contact details

Maternal and Child Health Service The Maternal and Child Health and Parenting Unit manages the MCH Service in Victoria.

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