Welcome to The Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies

The Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies was established in 2005 by the Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies to support work in the early childhood field in Australia. It encompasses the former Forest Hill Early Childhood Foundation ( established in 1995) and has a new component based on funds from the sale of Warrawong. The Foundation will continue the work of the Founders who were the Graduates’ Association of the Kindergarten Training College in Melbourne.

History of Forest Hill

In 1926 the Founders established a Holiday Home in the countryside at Forest Hill for children from socially and economically deprived inner city suburbs. They came for nurture during a country holiday and to allow respite for their families. They played, climbed trees, milked cows, and fished in the creek, and enjoyed the space, the freedom and the care. In 1960 it became an emergency residential kindergarten. The Forest Hill Emergency Kindergarten was eventually closed and in 1991, the large property, now surrounded by suburban development, was sold by the Graduates’ Association ( now known as the Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies). Part of the income from the sale was used to establish the Forest Hill Early Childhood Foundation which is now incorporated in the new Foundation. Once a year the interest from the invested money is distributed as Grants to a wide range of early childhood services and projects in Australia.

History of Warrawong

In 1937 Lieut-Col. Fred Davey donated his country property Ware, in Ringwood East, to the Graduates’ Association of the former Kindergarten Training College in Melbourne. The property comprised an old homestead and 25 acres of land and was to be used as a Holiday Home for disadvantaged children from inner city Melbourne. Children were selected by a medical officer and their kindergarten teacher. The average stay at Ware was 3 weeks.

Over the years, the programmes offered were adapted and changed to meet the social needs of the time and to keep current with the latest beliefs in early childhood development. Students, undertaking Kindergarten training, frequently spent their placement time in residence at Ware and many of the costs associated with the running of this Holiday Home were met through charitable donations from J .B Were and Son. This association continued through to the closure of the Service. With looming financial difficulties, staff shortages, changing social needs and Ware in need of renovation, the Kindergarten Graduates decided to sell the old home and most of the land and to develop a new centre for children on the remaining acres.

In 1957, this new centre, Warrawong, was established as a modern, purpose built Centre designed as a Holiday Home for up to ten children. Later, local children also attended for sessions of Kindergarten and long Day Care. During the sixties change again occurred as the Centre began to offer Emergency Care for families in crisis situations but the financial problems for the Kindergarten Graduates Association continued.

In 1973 further changes took place and from then, to the time of the closure of Warrawong and sale of the property, many innovative programmes were developed on the site. Davey House was established in partnership with Maroondah Hospital as a Paediatric Outreach Programme and Sage Cottage operated alongside Warrawong as an Occasional Care and 3 year old programme. Warrawong was considered a leader in the development of Early Childhood Programmes. It was managed and run by interested community members, parents and Graduate Kindergarten Teachers.

The decision to close and sell the property in 2003 was difficult for the Graduates’ Association but through the Warrawong fund being established from the proceeds, within The Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies, it is hoped that the vision of the early Kindergarten Graduates will continue. The fund will be used to support training and professional development in the early childhood field in Victoria.

Advisory Committees and Grants

UP_ARROW.PNGTwo Advisory Committees have been established by the Association; one to advise the Trustees on the distribution of funds linked to Forest Hill and one to advise on the distribution of funds linked to Warrawong. The Trustees of The Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies will distribute money from both funds, this year.