Setting Aussie kids up for success
5 June 2019 at 4:13 pm
An Australian charity is developing a 10-year roadmap for early childhood research focused on helping vulnerable children get the best start in life.
The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) will be funded by The Ian Potter Foundation to complete the 18-month project, which will set a research agenda for early childhood development in Australia to 2030.
The Decadal Early Years Plan will be used by policymakers, academics and philanthropists to coordinate and fund research that will have the greatest impact on vulnerable children.
Chair of The Ian Potter Foundation Charles Goode said this roadmap will ensure collaboration across the research sector, government and philanthropy.
“In our view ARACY are the best-placed organisation to undertake this work as they have a strong track record in early childhood research and established relationships with other key bodies working in this area,” Goode said.
The Australian Early Development Index (AEDC) – which measures children on their physical, social, emotional, language and communication skills – found one in five kids started school vulnerable in at least one of these areas.
ARACY CEO Penny Dakin warned many of these children would never catch up.
“We’re not just talking about ensuring a child can succeed at school, though that’s part of it. We’re talking about giving thousands more the best start to a successful life,” Dakin said.
“When a child starts school and is behind in one or more of the areas measured by the AEDC, they are not only more likely to struggle at school, but also to struggle throughout their lives.”
Dakin said the conditions in the first thousand days of a child’s life had impacts into adulthood, meaning greater understanding was needed of the factors that set a kid up for success.
“The work we will do with our partners and with the support of The Ian Potter Foundation will help us build and share evidence to ensure investments, policies and the way services are provided to children and young people in Australia are as effective as possible,” she said.
“It will help change the national mindset around early intervention, sharing knowledge and data, and to enable funders to make more informed and effective investment decisions.”
ARACY will seek partners with expertise in areas such as early childhood education and child health to help document current research and find gaps that need to be addressed.
The project will complement ARACY’s work with the National Early Literacy Coalition developing a National Early Language and Literacy Strategy, which focuses on helping kids start school with the foundational reading, writing and language skills they need to succeed.