Introducing CPD’s Early Childhood Development Initiative

CPD’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Initiative aims to elevate children on the national policy agenda by developing a vision for an integrated ECD system that will deliver benefits for children, families and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage.

Australia has made great progress in many aspects of early childhood policy reform. Examples of this include:

  • Improving the quality and consistency of early childhood education and care services.
  • Helping families to balance work and child rearing.
  • Improvements in meeting the needs of First Nations children and families including connection to culture.
  • Providing a minimum entitlement to paid parental leave.
  • Delivering quality maternal and child health services to the vast majority of Australian families.

These achievements have been delivered by all levels of government, at federal, state and territory level, including in partnership with innovative non-government organisations.

Yet unfinished business remains. Despite all Governments investing in new early childhood policies and programs, too many children are still missing out, and it is often those who stand to benefit most from quality ECD services. More than one in five children are developmentally vulnerable when they start school, disproportionately from lower-income families. Getting it right for all children and families will require national collaboration, commitment, and policy innovation, not just business as usual.

The ECD initiative works with policy-makers, early childhood sector leaders and experts to create space for new, collaborative policy thinking and action. The Initiative comprises two parts:

  • The ECD Council brings together policy-makers and experts to engage with evidence, develop policy options, and share ideas. The Council is co-chaired by CPD Fellow Leslie Loble and Jay Weatherill (CEO, Thrive by Five).
  • The Scoping Study translates new and existing evidence into resources and models to inform better policy decisions.

Over three years, the ECD Council and Scoping Study will strengthen the connections between the ECD policy process, and evidence from practice and research.

The Scoping Study has five interconnected focus areas that are key for ECD system reform: system design, investment, workforce, place-based approaches, and data. These focus areas were identified after the first meeting of the ECD Council in October 2020, based on a review of existing evidence of how best to realise the vision of integrated ECD systems to support child development.

The ECD Initiative is led by Program Director Jen Jackson and Policy Advisors Caitlin McCaffrie and Frances Kitt. It is supported by an expert Steering Group, and works collaboratively with other major national ECD initiatives. It has been made possible by the generous support of the Minderoo and Ian Potter Foundations.

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