AEDC Video: Informing your planning - Transcript
The Australian Early Development Census or AEDC measures early childhood development. The information helps communities understand how children are developing before they start school, what’s being done well, and what can be improved.
Access to housing, employment, education and transport has an impact on families and communities.
Some communities have good access to socio-economic resources, other communities have poor access.
The majority sits in the middle.
Families across the board face challenges raising children.
The majority of children live in the mid-range of the socio-economic spectrum so most children with developmental vulnerabilities are apparent in that same spectrum.
Availability of resources has impacts on access to health services and community supports for raising children. This is why the AEDC data shows higher concentrations of children with developmental vulnerabilities in areas of poor resource availability.
The AEDC data can help schools, communities and governments pinpoint and tailor their services, resources and support to help young children and their families.
Universal services such as antenatal health checks, immunisations, and school are available to all families.
Targeted services are for families or communities with specific challenges; for example social services, or home visiting programs.
A mix of both service types is needed to improve outcomes for children across Australia.
When only universal services are delivered, those with good access will do best.
Families with poor access to transport, education, employment and housing face barriers to utilising universal services.
So, universal services alone that do not take into account barriers to access, may increase the gap over time between children in resource rich and resource poor areas.
Delivering targeted services to those with the greatest challenges only reaches a small number of children. This is because most children who are developmentally vulnerable live in communities that are rarely targeted by these programmes.
The key to reducing vulnerability across Australia is a mix of universal services and targeted programs from pregnancy to school age that give extra support to families with additional challenges.
Let’s say Community A, with 5 suburbs, has a grant to employ a full time speech therapist.
A universal approach could be to place the therapist at the child health clinic and be available to all families. It’s likely only families who have fewer barriers to accessing services would benefit. So community inequality is unlikely to change or it will worsen with areas of high vulnerability unlikely to improve while others improve.
A targeted approach could send the therapist to a preschool of 50 children in a suburb with the greatest proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable on the communication skills and general knowledge domain– so only a few children will benefit.
A mixed approach that services the entire community could have the therapist employed to connect with all early childhood service providers in the region with a focus on hard to reach families. The therapist would work with service providers to create language rich play programmes across the community and up-skill providers to talk to families about how they can help their children’s development.
The speech therapist would also hold weekly clinic hours for the small number of children identified with speech disorders. For most children in the area their early language environments improve as parents, caregivers and service providers learn how to support children’s development. With this approach fewer children will start school with communication difficulties.
A mixed service approach shifts the entire population so we raise the level of achievement for everyone.
The AEDC results also enable us to track how communities are doing and which services work best.
For more information, visit the website or contact your State or Territory Coordinator.