CALD children more likely to miss out on ECEC, leading to vulnerability
Children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are more likely to miss out on early childhood education and care (ECEC), leaving them exposed to vulnerability, soon to be released research has shown.
The Stronger Starts, Brighter Futures report, to be released at the end of this month during an online event with a panel featuring Sally Brinkman, Head of Child Health Development and Education for Telethon Kids, and Myra Geddes, General Manager of Social Impact for Goodstart Early Learning, will highlight findings from a detailed analysis of a national census of children starting full-time school.
The report examines trends in how children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are faring in comparison to other Australian children in terms of their development and participation in early childhood education.
Settlement Services International (SSI) – a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to reach their potential – partnered with the Telethon Kids Institute – a leading children’s research agency – to carry out the research drawing on data from the Australian Early Development Census, conducted every three years since 2009.
“We know that participation in early childhood education benefits children, families and the economy and society in the long term,” Professor Brinkman said.
“With Australia becoming more culturally diverse it is imperative that we examine the developmental trajectories of culturally diverse children and their participation in early childhood education.”
The analysis of the census of children found that:
- children from CALD backgrounds in Australia continued to be more likely to be developmentally vulnerable at school entry than children from non-CALD backgrounds in each census since 2009, but that the gap has narrowed over time
- children from CALD backgrounds across Australia are less likely to attend any type of early childhood education compared to non-CALD children in each census and the gap has remained unchanged over time
- attendance at early childhood education makes a difference for the development of all children: in 2018, CALD children who did not attend were 1.8 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable compared to CALD children who had attended; non-CALD children who did not attend were 1.9 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable, compared to their peers who attended
The research points to ways to improve attendance by children and families from CALD backgrounds at early childhood education through a mix of universal and targeted approaches involving governments, policy makers, early education providers and providers of settlement services.
“Children from CALD backgrounds should be able to access early childhood education that is culturally responsive and meets their needs and preferences,” Yamamah Agha, who leads Settlement Services at SSI, said.
The research recommends government and policy makers plan more effectively for increasing cultural diversity in the early childhood population and implement stronger inclusion efforts to address the lower participation of children from CALD backgrounds.
For early childhood education providers, the recommendation is to embed a more culturally responsive approach to support children and families from CALD backgrounds and promote awareness of the benefits of early childhood learning.
Stronger Starts, Brighter Futures will be launched by Anne Hollonds, the Australian National Children’s Commissioner, as part of an online event and panel discussion on Wednesday, March 31, 10:30-12.00pm (AEDT).
Sally Brinkman, Telethon Kids Institute
Jay Weatherill, Thrive by Five
Yamamah Agha, Settlement Services International
Myra Geddes, Goodstart Early Learning
The moderator will be Adam Carey, The Age’s education editor.