Landmark US report forecasts five domains critical to the future of young children
The Sector > Research > Landmark US report forecasts five domains critical to the future of young children

Landmark US report forecasts five domains critical to the future of young children

by Freya Lucas

November 01, 2019

KnowledgeWorks and Capita, two US based not for profit organisations that explore the future of learning, and how rapidly transforming societies and cultures will impact children and their families, have released a new report that highlights a range of key themes and emerging issues of interest to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector going forward.  


The Foundations for Flourishing Futures: A Look Ahead for Young Children and Families report, based on a 10 year forecast created using year strategic foresight methodologies, takes “a sweeping view of society’s mixed success” in improvement methods tried thus far, employing strategic forecasting to show the value of the first eight years of life as an essential time for people to have access to high-quality education, artistic and cultural assets, mental, physical and spiritual wellness and stability within families, communities and themselves.


In the forecast, five domains in which issues critical to young children reside are identified:

  • Health by the Numbers: Emerging technologies reshaping the way children’s well-being is measured and supported.

  • Learning in Flux: Social and economic uncertainty influencing approaches to early learning.

  • The Autonomy Gaps: New notions about young children’s autonomy, as well as increasing inequity, creating cultural and generational tensions and widening disparities

  • Stretched social fabric: Shifting support structures change how diverse families access resources.

  • Care at the Core: New economic and job realities and aging population creating tensions within caregiving structures and values.


To bring each domain to life, the forecast illustrates objects, roles, places and practices that could exist in the future. It also highlights issues to watch and provides guidance for creating flourishing futures.


As well as the five domains, the report imagines “Artifacts from the future,” such as community scorecards and new roles which could be created to support community health. Not all of the artifacts are likely to be seen as positive developments. Attention Money, for example, imagines advertisements that young children choose to watch for rewards like buying merchandise becoming reality by 2030.


Key questions are posed, some of which may be useful to scaffold broader conversation in the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) context: 


  • What if innovation created more stability, not more disruption, for young children and families? 

  • What if children were treated as full members of society instead of as adults in training?

  • What if flourishing were seen as a common good instead of as an individual accomplishment? 

  • What if every issue was a children’s issue?


Too often, the authors said, “we do not recognise how the profound social, economic and technological changes underway will reshape (children’s)  lives and our very understanding of what it means to be a child. 


Foundations for Flourishing Futures: A Look Ahead for Children and Families, they hope, will help leaders across sectors navigate that gap, understand their own work in new ways and do their part to ensure that every child and family can flourish in the future.


The authors assert that leaders have a responsibility to engage in “bold, aspirational and long-term thinking” that can lead to new avenues of innovation, unlikely but meaningful partnerships and a fresh mindset about what it will take to help every young child and family flourish in the future.


Report co-author, Joe Waters, CEO of Capita, will also be the key note speaker at the ECEC Innovation Forum 2020 to be held in Sydney on the 2nd and 3rd of April, 2020.


Foundations for Flourishing Futures: A Look Ahead for Children and Families may be downloaded here. 

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