Plumtree began in the early 1980’s as The Cottage Preschool on the grounds of the Grosvenor Centre at Summer Hill. On the premises was The Annex (of the Lucas Gardens Special School) which was a demountable classroom owned by the Department of Education and it was here that the school age children attended school. However, the staff at The Annex were also concerned about the lack of stimulation for the preschool children who were residents at the Grosvenor Centre and so they lobbied the department of Health to open a preschool for them. The Cottage Preschool opened in 1985 in a cottage on site and one of the conditions of the funding was that the children were to be integrated into local preschools and that local children could attend the Cottage Preschool. Soon after, the preschool was moved to a demountable on the premises and the name changed to Grosvenor Early Education Centre in reference to the fact that the preschool was on the premises of the Grosvenor Centre.
In 1997, the preschool became a licensed children’s service and in the following year, the name changed to Pathways Early Childhood Intervention Inc. signalling a new future for the organization and a clear break from the residential institution. By this time, the organization had commenced a shift to introduce family-centred services to families in the Inner West, through a home based visiting service funded by the Department of Ageing and Disability and a playgroup which was supported by a speech therapist. This approach acknowledged that families spend the most amount of time with their child and that children learn in everyday home and community environments.
In 2000, the organization moved into the community to a purpose built, licensed children’s service owned by Marrickville Council which was used for a variety of services including open and drop in playgroups that provided families with immediate access to support. By 2012 the organization had grown to employ 24 staff members including therapists and early childhood special education teachers. However, the Board recognized that too many families were still waiting for the help they needed to give their children the best start in life. They set a goal to expand the organization by 43% to reach 200 families each year. Limited space was preventing them from reaching this goal so they commenced capital works to the value of $2.6 million. In October 2013, the organization reached their goal of supporting 200 children and their families one month before the capital works were completed. After years of careful consideration, the Board also made the decision to change the name of the organisation in order to create a strong foundation for the future.
Plumtree is now a major provider of services to children with disabilities in the Inner West, City of Sydney, Eastern Sydney, St George and Sutherland areas and is a leader in delivering individual funding models to children and their families in readiness for the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.