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  1. Using national data to strengthen local communities Associate Professor Jill Sewell Centre for Community Child Health Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute International Forum for Child Welfare Melbourne 20 October 2011

  2. Rationale informing the Centre CCH • Community approach to overcome child and family disadvantage • Community support critical in the early years of childhood • Outcome data drives change and innovation

  3. Key outcomes of early brain development Genes protective risk Environment 0 – 5-years-old

  4. Australian Early Development Index The AEDI is a population measure of how young children are developing in different Australian communities.

  5. What is the aim of the AEDI? To measure the health and development of populations of young children. Why is that important? To assist communities and governments to plan and assess the effectiveness of their efforts in supporting young children and their families.

  6. How is information collected? Teachers complete a checklist for children in their first year of full-time school (ie ~ 5yrs). Secure, web-based data entry system developed especially for the AEDI by the Australian Council for Educational Research. AEDI checklists are completed based on teachers' knowledge and observations of the children in their class.

  7. What does the AEDI measure?

  8. The AEDI looks at how groups of children are developing ... and reports back on how groups of children are developing. It gathers information on each child …

  9. Making a big difference Supporting children one-by-one can help individual children … ... but just one small change in a community can make a big difference to many children.

  10. Background to the AEDI • Australian Governments work in partnership with the Centre for Community Child Health (The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, to deliver the AEDI. • AEDI piloted in 60 Australian communities between 2004 and 2008. • AEDI endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) as a national progress measure of early childhood development (2006). • The Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations committed $24.5 million for the 2009-10 national roll-out of the AEDI. • The Australian Government commits to collect this important data every three years, an investment of $51.2 million over five years to 2015−2016.

  11. 2009 data collection • First national data collection May to July 2009. • Data collected on 261,147 children (98% of the estimated five-year-old population). • 15,522 teachers from 7,422 schools (96% of all Government, Catholic and Independent schools).

  12. AEDI results are presented as: • National Report • Online Maps • Community Profiles • School Profiles

  13. A snapshot of Australia’s children

  14. Summary of Australia’s children • 6.6% of children born outside Australia in 187 different countries. • 12,468 (4.8%) Australian Indigenous (ATSI) children. • 17.1% of all Australian children (including Indigenous children) spoke languages other than English in the home - 279 different languages • In the year before entering school 92.6% of Australian children were reported to be in care or education programs. • 4.4% of children are reported as having chronic physical, intellectual and medical needs (special needs status). • 10.5% of children were identified by teachers as requiring further assessment.

  15. Developmental vulnerability Percentage of children developmentally vulnerable (DV) across Australia by jurisdiction

  16. Community results Online Maps provide communities with a visual representation of the initial AEDI results at a local level. • The AEDI maps show the proportions and numbers of children in the local community developmentally vulnerable on: • The five AEDI domains • On one or more domain/s • On two or more domains

  17. Community results AEDI Community Profiles provide: • contextual information about the community such as its location, residential population and number of children aged 0−5. • AEDI results – proportions and numbers of children in the whole community and its local communities - developmentally vulnerable, at risk and on track.

  18. 5 ways communities can use the AEDI results • Raise awareness about the importance of the early years. • Provide a common language for the community to discuss the needs of young children. • Help understand what is working well and what may need to change in their community to support children and families. • Provide a basis for identifying possible priorities for action in the community. • Provide a baseline for measuring change in children's development over time.

  19. School results • AEDI School Profiles provide the AEDI results (numbers of children developmentally vulnerable) for schools with six or more children surveyed. • A Guide to understanding and using the AEDI School Profile is also available to accompany the AEDI School Profile. • Principals can download their School Profile from the AEDI website. • School Profiles are not publicly available.

  20. 5 ways schools can use the AEDI results • Reflect on all aspects of each child’s development in their first year of school. • Understand the needs of students before entering school and help with planning for the needs of children once at school. • Drill down on the local context and environment of children at the school. • Initiate conversations and partnerships with agencies and services in the community. • Advocate for supports for children in the community before they arrive at school.

  21. DEECD Hume Region • October to November 2009: Meetings and analysis of available outcomes data and other relevant information • November to December 2009: 6 regional consultations • Local government • DEECD network leaders and staff • Service staff representatives ranging from MCH, childcare/preschool, disability support services, school principals, family day care and family support services.

  22. What influences child development?Children’s family, community and environment

  23. AEDI Demographic Information, 2009

  24. AEDI Results % developmentally vulnerable, 2009

  25. What influences child development?Children’s family, community and environment

  26. Family environments * Rural average

  27. What influences child development?Children’s family, community and environment

  28. Kinship and informal networksKey questions • Families with young children connect with other families? • Social supports available for families in the community? • Peer and kinship supports for families? • Do families have someone to go to when they are in need?

  29. What influences child development?Children’s family, community and environment

  30. Community and service environments 1 DEECD Early Childhood Community Profile 2 AEDI Community Profile 2009 * Rural average

  31. Community and formal service environmentsKey questions • Availability and accessibility of services and facilities? • Access gaps? • Services and facilities provide families with the opportunity to meet other families? • Family friendly services and facilities? • Flexible services, e.g. father inclusive? • Affordable services and facilities? • Coordination between services, ease of finding out about services? • Quality of services?

  32. Consultation findings (1) For families and communities • Geographic isolation • Lack of knowledge about services or importance of early years • access to specialist and universal services For services and school settings • Lack of service coordination and access to specialist services • Service provision not matching family need • Lack of understanding of the needs of children from birth through to 8 years as a continuum • Need for a greater emphasis on a whole of community approach

  33. Consultation findings (2) For staff in services and schools • Workforce and professional learning challenges • Innovative strategies to support recruitment and retention. • Build a common understanding about quality frameworks • Build effective 0−8 networks at a local (place-based) level with a common vision across 0−8 Early Childhood Development services.For the 0−8 years system • Need integrated data-sets and regular and transparent reporting across the region on outcomes for children/families • Segmentation (funding, regulations, policies) of approaches across ECD/ schooling limits ‘joined-up thinking’ regarding provision across programs / services.

  34. Using data at the regional/local and service level Documentation of community demographics using a wide range of data is an important precursor to developing a strategic action plan for the community that will translate the community’s highest priority needs into outcomes, objectives and strategies for action.

  35. Developing an outcomes-based plan

  36. Community example The AEDI was completed in the Mornington community in Victoria in 2005 and 2008. A range of activities and evidence-based programs have been put in place across the Shire to assist with early childhood development. • The Wallaroo Child and Family Centre was redeveloped. This was encouraged by evidence that the Centre is in an area where the AEDI revealed high levels of vulnerability. • Involvement in the R.E. Ross Trust Linking Schools and Early Years Project for the Hastings community. • The Rosebud West Early Years Project has been developed and aims to address some of the issues identified by the AEDI for the area. This Project has been able to secure strong local support and philanthropic funds for their initiatives.

  37. School example In the western suburbs of Perth, where the AEDI was piloted in 2006, a story-telling and constructed play session for three- and four-year-olds was trialled in one primary school to: • identify children at risk of developmental delay and refer to early intervention program/s • increase parenting skills so parents can interact with their children in a positive manner • decrease the number of children entering kindergarten with literacy or numeracy problems • increase the social network of families. Due to the success of the trial, story-telling and constructed play sessions are now offered in a number of primary schools in the western suburbs of Perth.

  38. Data driving change and innovation • National AEDI data collection in 2009, 2012 and 2015 - publically available as a national indicator • Will drive collaborative community programs eg between schools and early years programs – shared innovation • Small amounts of change across the country could make a big difference for children, particularly disadvantaged kids.