First Steps Parenting Centre
First Steps Parenting Centre (FSPC) is a service for families with children aged 0-5 years based at the Wallsend Health Campus. Except for one of our more specific programs, we provide general services to those families living in the Newcastle, Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie Local Government Areas. The centre provides multi-disciplinary support to families from social workers, nurses, a paediatrician and a speech pathologist. Some examples of the issues families may be referred for include:
Sometimes we are so preoccupied with getting through the pregnancy and birth that we don’t give a thought to what babies need once they’re on the outside. Child and Family Health Nurses at FSPC offer information and practical assistance with infant sleep cycles, settling techniques and feeding patterns.
Individuals and families may be referred where postnatal depression or anxiety has been indicated or diagnosed. Experienced social workers offer assessment and ongoing counselling, depending on the individual needs of the family.
It can be very daunting having a new baby in the house. Adjustment issues are very common among new parents and things that may not have been stressful in the past can become overwhelming. Our team supports families by assisting practically and emotionally with these big life changes.
Often we don’t think about playing with our infants or children, and how important this is to their day-to-day development and relationships with their carers. FSPC offers information and advice on meaningful and affordable ways to play with your baby, which increases positive connection with them and develops a sense of security and trust in the relationship.
Sometimes toddlers can be challenging! Using evidence based models of practice, FSPC staff can offer strategies and approaches that best fit the needs of the family. This may involve behavioural and/or attachment interventions.
Sometimes there may be relationship struggles in the household that trigger patterns of difficult behaviour in children. It’s important to remember that this behaviour isn’t their first choice, and that often they aren’t old enough to choose how they behave. Staff will work with families to identify these patterns, understand normal toddler and child behaviour, and work towards changing both child and carer responses in stressful situations.
Specifically tailored nursing and social work support is available for parents who are under the age of 21, and for families experiencing particularly difficult circumstances such as mental health issues, substance use, homelessness or family violence.
Parent and family resources for COVID-19
- The Story of the Oyster and the Butterfly - a book explaining COVID-19 to children.
- Managing you mental health online during COVID-19 - a fact sheet about COVID-19 and your mental health.
- Behaviour iceburg - a basic visual for parents to understand there are valid feelings and needs underneath the undesirable behaviour.
- Women's Safety NSW: COVID-19 - contact details for domestic vilence support and emergencies.
- Paediatrics online: a COVID-19 information page - things to do with kids during isolation.
- Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety - from the Australian Psychological Society.
- From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus - Beyond Blue.
- Encouraging good behaviour: 15 tips - Suitable for 1-8 years.
- 100 ways to praise a child - Dads 4 Kids.
- Circle of Security - YouTube video explaining about children requiring safety and security.
- Telehealth information - From the Agency for Clinical Innovation.
- Breastfeeding and COVID-19 - From the Austrsalian Breastfeeding Association.
- COVID-19: Daily Life and Coping - Advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- COVID-19 and children in Australia - Suitable for 0-18 years.
- COVID-19 FAQs - NSW Health
- COVID-19 personal health information - healthdirect
- Latest information in NSW on COVID-19 - NSW Health
- COVID-19 multilingual resources - NSW Health
First Steps Parenting Centre is a family centre, meaning we encourage the attendance of mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster carers, or any other significant carers for the referred child. At the time we make the appointment we will discuss with the family whether it would be helpful for the child to attend the appointment or not.
Interventions are tailored to each individual family, and may include both centre-based and home-based appointments, depending on the needs of the family. Please note that home visits are not always available. After our first appointment, we will discuss an appropriate plan forward to ensure we are meeting the needs of the family. If we aren’t able to assist with these goals, we will help to find the best service to do so before closing the referral.
Other than individual appointments First Steps Parenting Centre offers a number of services and programs that families may be able to access if they are already a client of our service. These include:
A 7-week psychoeducational and therapeutic group focusing on the myths of parenting, depression management and relationships. This group includes 2 x partner nights.
This parenting program focuses on being able to identify and meet the emotional needs of children to better understand and manage their behaviour. This group takes a different approach to other child behaviour groups in the past.
A 6-week group exploring the 3 components of self-compassion- mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. The SC group focuses on teaching practical skills that promote better self-care and self-awareness. The group aims to reduce parental stress, anxiety and self-imposed pressure.
First Steps Parenting Centre offers the Maitland and Port Stephens local government areas access to a Young Parent Social Worker. The social worker can provide individual and group support to parents who are 24 and under, who are pregnant or whose youngest child is under the age of 8. Groups are run in Anna Bay, Raymond Terrace, Beresfield and in the near future Rutherford.
First Steps Parenting Centre Day Stay is held most with child health nurses and a social worker. Daystay offers parents with babies under the age of 16 weeks an opportunity to learn and practice settling strategies within the feed/play/sleep cycle. A maximum of 3 families can be seen in Day Stay at once, and families have reported that sharing experiences with other parents has helped to normalise their situation and make them feel like they are not alone.
You may be asked whether you consent to being videoed with your child at FSPC. Videoing is a great tool that staff use to reflect back the different ways in which you and you infant/child communicate, and where we see opportunities for these patterns to change. All DVD’s are kept in security lockers, are part of your health record and treated confidentially.
During school terms a nurse and social worker facilitate a weekly parent and child health clinic. Parents must be enrolled in the school to access this drop in clinic where we can discuss issues ranging from feeding or child behaviour to parental mental health.
A specialised home visiting program designed for at-risk, vulnerable first time parents. Includes services from a child and family health nurse and social worker. Referrals can only be made through the Family Care Midwives or Social Work at the John Hunter Hospital.
If staff at FSPC require clarification around certain issues in relation to your toddler or pre-schooler, we may refer to a paediatrician who visits us one day per week. There is a significant wait to see our paediatrician so sometimes we offer you alternatives to access these services.
If we are wanting further assessment of your child’s speech, we can book you in to see a Speech Pathologist at FSPC. We can only offer you one appointment at FSPC, and your child will then go on your local waiting list to access subsequent therapy appointments if required.
First Steps Parenting Centre only accepts referrals from other professionals involved in the care of the family, for example a GP, mental health worker, family support worker or preschool teacher, who has seen the parent or the referred child within the last 4 weeks of referral date. Families cannot self-refer. However we encourage all young parents (under 21y/o) to phone or email us , even if they don’t have a GP, so that we can help access our service, and others if needed.
Unfortunately we do not accept referrals directly to our paediatrician or speech pathologist. The child must be seen and assessed by a social worker or nurse before deciding whether further assessment is warranted.
Adjusting to Parenthood
Becoming a Father – Sometimes dads may feel as though they are left out of the equation when it comes to new babies, and parenting in general. Between not being able to breastfeed, to having to go back to work, dads often feel that they don’t have a chance to bond with their new baby. It might also feel like you’re holding everyone else together, and that there is never any fuel left in the tank for you. You’re not alone. Here are some great resources and support ideas for dads to draw on.
Infant Sleep and Settling
Location and contact information
Lowrey Lane, Wallsend Campus, Wallsend 2287
PO Box 119, Wallsend 2287
(02) 4924 6550
(02) 4924 6555
Monday to Friday 8am to 4.30pm
There is no cost for this service
There is wheelchair access to the service