RSTO produces Indicator Guide for early years services
The Sector > Research > RSTO produces Indicator Guide for early years services

RSTO produces Indicator Guide for early years services

by Freya Lucas

June 01, 2023

Restacking the Odds (RSTO) is a project dedicated to helping early childhood development services including early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to use timely data to make a difference for children and families, and has just launched a brand-new website.


This website aims to keep communities, service providers and policymakers updated on the RSTO program and provide resources to help optimise five key early years services (antenatal care, early childhood education and care, the early years of school, sustained nurse home visiting, and parenting programs).


Since 2016, RSTO has examined how inequity could be reduced by ensuring that children and families can access a combination of high-quality evidence-informed services where and when they need them.


RSTO is currently in the action phase of the project and is working closely with communities and service providers to make it easy for early years services to use data to improve areas that can make a difference for children and families. 


Specifically, RSTO is co-designing technology and other resources and approaches to help services take steps to enhance service quality, quantity and participation. In strengthening these areas, RSTO hopes to enable fairer and more effective early years services.


The team behind RSTO believes combining or ‘stacking’ evidence-based strategies across the early years (birth to eight years) is more impactful than a single strategy, and that there is a need to apply strategies at the same time and sustain them.


RSTO focuses on how to work differently to improve outcomes for children, families and communities. It aims to develop the skills and knowledge of service providers and community-based early years initiatives for collecting, understanding and using evidence-based data to enable them to answer key questions including:


  • Quantity: are the strategies available locally in sufficient quantity, relative to the size of the target population?
  • Quality: are the strategies delivered effectively relative to evidence-based performance standards ?
  • Participation: do children and families participate, and at the right dosage levels?


To support in the delivery of its mission and objectives, RSTO is co-designing a Learning System with communities and service providers. The system will enable communities and service providers to collect and use lead indicator data to understand and improve service and system performance. 


Key elements of the Learning System include:


  1. Technology platform: to collect, interpret and visualise data.
  2. Improvement support program: to build data literacy and embed a model for continuous learning and improvement in services and communities. It will support services to respond, innovate and act on data.
  3. Community of practice: to share learnings, experiences, knowledge and resources across organisations and the sector.


The newly released Indicator Guide contains RSTO’s framework of evidence-based lead indicators for five key early childhood services and strategies: antenatal care, nurse home visiting, early childhood education and care, parenting programs and the early years of school (P-3).


The framework of lead indicators can be used to:


  • Better measure service performance and enable more effective and efficient services (and avoid wasting time, money and effort on approaches that fail to deliver results)
  • Better respond to the needs of children and families in their community, especially those experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage
  • Learn and share with others striving to improve children’s outcomes
  • Capture evidence for insights, innovation and advocacy.


View the Indicator Guide here.

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