The inclusion services offered by Big Fat Smile are a real "lifesaver" for Alana Lucas.
The mother-of-two really appreciates the Children and Parenting Support (CAPS) program offered by the not-for-profit early education and care provider.
"My son has been going since he was six-months old and still goes now. He turns 12 in July," Ms Lucas said.
She added the program has connected her with the local community in Bellambi, enabling her to form lifelong friendships.
"The CAPS program has been a wonderful support network for my family. It is free and totally accessible," Ms Lucas said.
"I joined the program in 2008 as a young mum in my early 20's with my six-month old son. Since then we have remained connected with the program attending playgroups and school holiday activities.
"My son is now preparing to transition in to high school and I am an active member of the local P&C. I am truly grateful to the CAPS program."
An Australian Government initiative, delivered by Big Fat Smile, CAPS is designed to support families with children aged 0-12-years-old, living in the 2518 and 2502 postcode areas.
In 2017-18 CAPS supported 2200 unique clients across 377 sessions.
Registrations are open for the next Circle of Security Free Parenting Course, scheduled to start on May 7 and run for eight weeks.
The program is designed to help parents and carers build supportive and secure relationships with their children and is open to all parents.
Big Fat Smile has also teamed with Grand Pacific Health to relaunch its free post-natal depression counselling service.
Spaces are available in the term two and term three eight-week program, which includes free child minding for attendees provided by Big Fat Smile.
In 2018 this service supported 25 families over 24 two-hour group sessions.
Big Fat Smile CEO, Jenni Hutchins said these programs were just some of the many inclusion programs delivered to provide support and strong social networks to Illawarra families.
"Alana's story is a beautiful example of the impact our community services can have on families," Ms Hutchins said.
"Big Fat Smile exists to enrich the lives and minds of our children and families in their communities.
"One of our core organisaitonal values is Inclusion, and we take this very seriously. We partner and collaborate with Government, industry bodies and service providers to deliver quality care and support programs for parents and children."
Visit Big Fat Smile's website or call 1300 002 237 for more details.