The early years of a child’s life have a profound impact on their future cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. The skills and abilities acquired in early childhood are fundamental to a person’s success and wellbeing later in life.
A positive early childhood experience provides both short-term and long-term individual social and economic benefits for the child. Children with a positive early childhood experience are more likely to achieve a higher educational attainment as well as demonstrate high self-esteem and social development, and fewer social and health problems.
Early childhood development is of central importance to the wellbeing of Australia’s children and to the future wellbeing and productivity of the nation. That is why the Australian Government invests so significantly in the early years.
To ensure this investment is directed to areas of need, strong evidence is required to guide decisions on policy. One source of that evidence is the data collected by the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). The AEDC provides an opportunity to see how young children are progressing, inform the development of policies and programmes to improve early childhood development and help evaluate long-term strategies.
Australian and State and Territory Governments have recognised the need for all communities to have information about early childhood development and have endorsed the AEDC as a national progress measure of early childhood development. Governments at all levels and community organisations have been using this data to inform early childhood development policy and practice since the first national collection in 2009.
Improving early childhood development underpins a range of Australian Government initiatives, strategies and programmes.
This includes existing programmes across the health, mental health, education and early childhood, planning, community and family services, disability, Indigenous and housing sectors. The AEDC provides strong data evidence that helps inform, support and evaluate national priorities and policies on improving early childhood development.