Equitable Access to High Quality Early Childhood Education

The Gonski Institute for Education has awarded UNSW Social Policy Research Centre academics Dr Jennifer Skattebol, Dr Megan Blaxland and Dr Elizabeth Adamson, who have been awarded a research grant in the amount of $100,000 for a their project titled ‘Equitable Access to High Quality Childhood Education’. This research will investigate high quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services for children in disadvantaged communities and translate these findings into practice and policy that encourages families in these communities to use ECER services.

The Council of Australian Government 2008 plan to ensure all children have access to 15 hours of preschool in the year before school has seen increasing numbers of children utilising Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services. However, there remains a persistent minority of children who still do not access ECEC. These children are likely to live in disadvantaged contexts and have the most to gain from ECEC. The Australian Early Development Census shows that nearly 40 percent of Indigenous children and 35 percent of children living in low-income areas do not attend ECEC and do not accrue the advantages that a high quality ECEC experience offers. Furthermore, they are more likely to live in areas where there is little high quality ECEC provided in both regional and urban areas.

This project will coalesce the evidence on the barriers to ECEC take-up, identify communities where there are better than expected patterns of service use and generate evidence on effective ECEC initiatives in different contexts of local area disadvantage. At the conclusion of the study,  a policy brief outlining key findings will be released.