Playgroup is good for the economy, and good for children, analysis shows

by Freya Lucas

September 02, 2019

Playgroup Australia has shared the results of its latest research, with an independent cost benefit analysis (CBA) showing community playgroups not only support early childhood development and strengthen families; but that they have long-term positive impacts for the economy.

 

Economists Emeritus Professor Anne Daly, and Dr Greg Barrett along with researcher Rhian Williams took what Playgroup Australia termed “a rigorous approach” to identifying and assigning values to the costs and benefits arising from community playgroups. 

 

They found that investing in community playgroups helps improve emotional wellbeing and physical health, capacity and independence, creates more engaged education experiences, reduces isolation, and increases social inclusion, all of which have substantial economic benefit to Australia.

 

The CBA concluded that for every dollar Australia invests in community playgroups, $3.60 in benefits are returned. 

 

Professor Daly said “Community playgroups provide benefits to both preschool children and their caregivers, by providing opportunities to play, share and develop parenting skills and social networks. 

 

“According to the results of this study, the estimated benefit of these Community Playgroups is $3.60 for every $1 spent in supporting them. This shows they are a highly effective use of Government resources.”

 

Echoing recent reports such as Preschool – two years are better than one, the CBA provides further evidence that investing early in the lives of children and families has the greatest impact on long-term economic outcomes and overall wellbeing.  

 

By highlighting the economic benefits of community playgroup, Playgroup Australia said, “we are building the evidence base for the value of playgroup programs. Community playgroups are good for the economy, they are good for children, and good for parents. That makes them good for Australia.”  

 

CEO Fiona May said that since joining the organisation 12 months ago, she has had the benefit of visiting many groups around Australia. “Seeing the interactions, and hearing stories and memories from playgroup families, including those who have participated across several generations is one of the greatest highlights. 

 

“Now, alongside the stories, the qualitative evaluations and participant feedback, we have independent analysis that demonstrates real long-term benefits for the economy and wellbeing.”

 

Core to its message, and the recent analysis, Playgroup Australia said, was the notion that raising children is not a one person job. “The saying “it takes a village” is a message that inspires and drives our work, and this research shows that the whole village, our community, benefit from playgroup,” a spokesperson said. 

 

To review the analysis, please see here

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