New CoLab funding supports innovative therapeutic playgroup trial
A trial of a new therapeutic playgroup for children with developmental delays will be expanded thanks to a funding boost from CoLab.
The therapeutic playgroup is designed for children aged 18 months to three years who are significantly delayed in speech and at least one other area of development.
Occupational therapist Jodie Armstrong was recently named as one of the first PhD students to receive a prestigious two-year CoLab Top-Up Scholarship, worth $30,000, to expand this playgroup trial. CoLab joined forces with Curtin University, the Child Development Service and the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation to support it.
Jodie, who works with the State’s Child Development Service, has been instrumental in the development of the specially designed therapeutic playgroup. Her PhD research will see the playgroup, currently trialled at child and parent centres in Westminster and East Maddington, expanded to incorporate more than 60 families to assess its value.
Jodie said the new playgroup, being trialled by the Child Development Service in collaboration with Curtin University, will help parents and caregivers cut through the stress of caring for a child with developmental delays and become more confident in their own abilities, and at the same time connect them and their children to the right help.
“For many families, the playgroup might be the earliest therapeutic service they access,” Jodie said.
“It targets children with complex developmental challenges who are at risk of developmental delay and/or disability.”
The eight-week program has been designed for children with the help of parents and professionals from various health disciplines including clinical psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and more.
Jodie says it is hoped that parents will be the big beneficiaries.
“The playgroups provides a space for parents and carers to access information about how to support their children, as well as providing an opportunity to meet other families in the same situation.
“We are evaluating the effectiveness of the playgroup and if the results are positive, the idea would be to roll it out across the Child Development Service so that families across Perth can start accessing it.”
CoLab Director Professor Donna Cross said, with its focus on children with high needs, Jodie’s research was a perfect fit with CoLab’s focus on children and families experiencing vulnerability, and developing integrated and place-based approaches to service delivery.
“We look forward to seeing the results from this playgroup trial," Professor Cross said.