ARACY to take the lead on 10 year research agenda for early childhood development

by Freya Lucas

June 07

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) will lead a major research project, aimed at helping Australian children to get the best start in life.

 

Funded by The Ian Potter Foundation, the Decadal Early Years Plan is of national significance, and will set an ambitious, achievable 10-year research agenda for early childhood development in Australia. The plan will be developed for use by policy-makers, academics and philanthropists to coordinate and fund research for the greatest impact.

 

ARACY will seek to partner with, and develop the plan, alongside of those with expertise in early childhood education, child health, parental health, family and community educational engagement, and others, to document the research that currently exists, the research that needs to be undertaken, and how best to apply these research findings to ensure every child in Australia gets the chance to achieve their potential.

 

This 18-month research project will then map the course for the next decade to 2030.

 

Mr Charles Goode, Chair of The Ian Potter Foundation said the Foundation was pleased to see ARACY ‘step up to the challenge of developing what amounts to a road map for future early childhood research, highlighting the value in a project which seeks to foster and grow 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.” Mr Goode said.

 

In light of the recent Australian Early Development Index (AEDC) findings, illustrating that one in five Australian children start school vulnerable in at least one of five areas including physical health and wellbeing, language and cognitive skills, and social competence, never catching up, a plan to consolidate and drive research in this sphere is both timely and welcomed.

 

Speaking on behalf of ARACY, CEO Penny Dakin said the opportunity to lead the Decadal Early Years Plan was a true honour. “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. 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.”

 

“We know that conditions in the first thousand days of a child’s life have impacts into adulthood. We need to further our understanding of the factors that can change a child’s trajectory and set them on their way to thrive and succeed.” Ms Dakin said.

 

She outlined her hope that the work undertaken in conjunction with ARACY’s partners, and with the support of The Ian Potter Foundation, would help to ensure that investments, policies and the way services are provided to children and young people in Australia are as effective as possible.

 

Additionally, Ms Dakin hoped the work undertaken during the development of the plan would change the national mindset around early intervention, sharing knowledge and data, and to enable funders to make more informed and effective investment decisions.

The Decadal Early Years Plan will complement the work already underway by the National Early Literacy Coalition to develop a National Early Language and Literacy Strategy for Australia. The strategy will have a strong focus on helping to ensure children start school with the foundational reading, writing and language skills they need. The National Early Language and Literacy Strategy project received funding from The Ian Potter Foundation in September 2018, and ARACY is part of the National Early Literacy Coalition.

 

Ms Dakin closed her remarks by commending the approach taken by the Foundation in applying a  broad and integrated approach to supporting early interventions, stating that such measures support early interventions that will ultimately set more Australian children up for better lives.

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