Project aims to reduce inequities in children’s development
The Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital will host a new project which aims to determine the most effective policies across Australia to reduce inequities in children’s mental, academic and physical development.
The Changing Children’s Chances collaborative program was recently awarded a $475,000 Australian Research Council Linkage Project grant. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) Population Health Theme Director and University of Melbourne’s Professor Sharon Goldfeld will lead the project, with the Department of Social Services, Department of Health, VicHealth, Beyond Blue and the Brotherhood of St Laurence partnering and matching the grant amount in support of the project.
Cutting edge analytic approaches with existing data will be used to generate new evidence to inform the development of precision policy, which could allow for more targeted and effective efforts to reduce inequities in children’s health and development, Professor Goldfield said.
Members of the project will work collaboratively with policymakers to identify how existing policy levers, such as those related to parents’ mental health, family income support, preschool programs and community built environments, could be ‘stacked’ to maximise impacts on child inequities.
“We require evidence that can equip policy makers with the knowledge needed to choose the right public health, education, social, or health services strategies for a given population of children, at the right time, intensity, and duration in order to reduce inequities and improve child outcomes,” Professor Goldfield explained.
“This project will help decision makers to direct limited public funds towards intervention opportunities that will have the greatest impact with a focus on better use of existing resources.”
Research shows children in Australia on a persistently disadvantaged pathway are at higher risk of poor development by the time they are 10-11 years of age, compared with the most advantaged children.
Professor Goldfeld said adverse and inequitable outcomes for children would emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary public health interventions.
“Now is an opportune time to act to close the existing equity gap and ensure kids of the COVID generation can be healthier than past generations,” she said in closing.
For more information about the project, please see here.