Hubs showcase: First Steps Count Child and Community Centre

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 - 9:00 AM

Clare Brennan, Director of First Steps Count Child and Community Centre, shares insights into the centre in this short interview.


Please provide an overview of First Steps Count Child and Community Centre.

First Steps Count Child and Community Centre is a thriving hub where we work together with families and services to provide programs and activities designed to support families with children aged 0-12. The Centre is located in Taree, on the Mid Coast of NSW, in an area that is characterised by significant adversity and social challenges. There is no referral process or eligibility to come to the Centre. Our door is always open for families to come for a play in a fun and safe home-like environment and outdoor space.

We aim to reduce barriers for families and create better access to supports and services when they are needed. Through warm engagement practices, families are gently introduced to more formal supports and services if they are identified by our team. Some of our partners are co-located at the hub including Uniting, Community Health and Wellbeing4Kids (Uniting).

Examples of programs that are offered through partnerships with local service providers include supported playgroups, parenting support programs, child health and developmental screening, domestic and family violence support and other engaging cultural and activity based programs for families promoting connection.

We are committed to working together with families and services in our community to achieve better outcomes for children in the region.


What is your role at First Steps Count Child and Community Centre?

As the Director of First Steps Count, my role is to work with a voluntary Board of Directors to drive the strategic direction of the organisation and oversee the implementation of the hub. I am so fortunate to work with a dynamic team of skilled and talented people who do great work creating a safe and welcoming place for our families to engage with their children including a Centre Leader and Volunteer Coordinator who is engaging local people as volunteers to support centre operations. In addition, the First Steps Count Navigator is employed by Karitane through Communities for Children and a Research Facilitator is on-site leading an evaluation project called STARS4Kids.


What is unique or special about your Hub?

First Steps Count is an independent not-for-profit organisation that generates income and revenue to support our operations. This allows us to be agile and responsive to community need. Families are welcome to come to the Centre without any pressure to engage in formal programs. There is always fresh fruit, homemade cakes and tea and coffee available.

The Centre has been designed and built with open plan spaces, bringing nature and the environment in, to create a warm, home-like place where our families feel safe and welcome.

Our Centre Leader is an Aboriginal woman working off country which supports community to feel welcome and culturally safe at First Steps Count.


What are three strategies your Hub uses to ensure that children and families feel welcomed and connected?

  1. Children and community come first, so our door is always open and it is a priority for us to warmly greet each person who walks through the door.
  2. Families are free to move within services or programs, or they are welcome to simply come in for a play to connect with their child.
  3. We endeavour to engage local trusted organisations and people to deliver programs and services that our families ask for.


What would you like to see for all children and families accessing child and family hubs across Australia?

We would like to see hubs that genuinely believe in the strengths and skills of families, with service providers wanting to work in a way that empowers the community to build their skills, access the support they need and for parents to connect with parents to support each other.

Link to website - First Steps Count

Link to Facebook -

Proudly in partnership with

National Child and Family Hubs Network members span various disciplines and have a shared interest in Child and Family Hubs. The Network acknowledges the support of the Ian Potter Foundation, ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre) and Children’s Health Queensland.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.