The AEDC is a national progress measure
The AEDC provides a national measurement to monitor Australian children’s development.
The AEDC provides evidence to support policy, planning and action for health, education and community support. The AEDC can assist governments to develop flexible approaches to policy and planning that address the evolving needs of children and families in the future.
With four sets of AEDC national data collected in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018, we now have an indication of the national progress towards improving the development of Australian children. With each successive wave of data collected, the AEDC will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the state and progress of early childhood development in Australia.
As the environments of children improve, it is anticipated the AEDC data will demonstrate a higher proportion of children who are ‘developmentally on track’ and fewer children who are classified as ‘developmentally at risk’ or ‘developmentally vulnerable’.
The AEDC supports community-led action for improving children’s development
Communities can influence the earliest years of children’s lives. The AEDC results give communities a snapshot of children’s development as they arrive at school. The results can support communities to understand the local levels of developmental vulnerability and where that vulnerability exists within their community.
The AEDC provides communities with an opportunity to reflect on what the influences may have been for children before arriving at school.
Recognising the influences that can impact on children’s development can provide communities with the opportunity to consider what is working well and what needs to be improved or developed to better support children and their families. By providing a common ground on which people can work together, the AEDC results can enable communities to form partnerships to plan and implement activities, programs and services to help shape the future and wellbeing of children in Australia.
Return on investment
Investing time, effort and resources in children’s early years – when their brains are developing rapidly – brings lifelong benefits to them and to the whole community.
American economist and Nobel prize winner James Heckman argues that once children fall behind in their learning, they are likely to remain behind. Gaps in children’s performance levels open up early, and stay mostly constant after eight years of age. Beyond eight years, school environments can only play a small role in reducing these differences.
Investing in the early years can reduce expenditure on special education, criminal justice and welfare, and can increase national productivity by improving the skills of the workforce, reducing disadvantage and strengthening the global competitiveness of the economy.