Early childhood and long term outcomes

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Early childhood and long term outcomes in the AIFS library catalogue

Unequal opportunities: life chances for children in the 'lucky country'.

Cassells R, McNamara J, Gong C and Bicknell S
Sydney, NSW : The Smith Family, c2011.
This report is the first in a new research series examining whether children really do have an equal opportunity to participate and succeed in life in Australia. It presents indicators of opportunity and disadvantage, in the areas of Equality of Opportunity and of Intergenerational Mobility. These indicators are: Children and youth living in jobless households; Persistence rates of children in jobless households; Relative financial disadvantage; University participation for low socioeconomic status (SES) students; and the intergenerational mobility measures of earnings; educational attainment; and occupational attainment. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, this first report shows that though children and young people are doing reasonably well, large inequalities remain, especially in terms of financial resources available to parents during their children's early years and the opportunity for children from less privileged backgrounds to find pathways towards higher education.

Parental divorce and adult family, social and psychological outcomes: the contribution of childhood family adversity

Rodgers B, Gray P, Davidson T and Butterworth P
Canberra : Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2011.
Though children from divorced families are known to be at higher risk of long-term disadvantage than children from intact families, there is evidence to suggest that these disadvantages aren't due to family separation itself. Using data from 3 generations of Australian families, this report investigates some of the mechanisms at work. The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project surveyed adults from the Canberra region, with participants grouped in cohorts aged 20 to 24, 40 to 44 or 60 to 64. The study examined the associations between divorce and other childhood family adversity factors experienced up to age 16 years, and family, social and psychological outcomes in adulthood. Outcomes include depression, early child bearing, marital status, completing secondary education, and drug use. This report discusses the findings and the implications for further research, policy, and targeted interventions.

Children's socio-emotional, physical, and cognitive outcomes : do they share the same drivers?

Sanson A, Smart D and Misson S
Australian Journal of Psychology v. 63 no. 1 Mar 2011: 56-74
It is commonly asserted that the same, or similar, risk factors are associated with a wide range of problematic child and adolescent outcomes such as educational, social and emotional problems, and poor health. This argument underpins calls for preventive approaches that target common causal drivers. However, the argument rests largely on the compilation of findings from multiple studies of single outcomes. 'Growing Up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children' is one of relatively few studies that can directly test this proposition within the one dataset. The same neighbourhood, child care, school, family, and child factors measured at 4-5 and 6-7 years were used to predict children's social/emotional, physical, and learning outcomes at 8-9 years, allowing assessment of commonalities in the predictors of each outcome. Results showed that the 'common drivers' proposition generally applied, but there were also unique factors associated with each outcome. Implications for intervention are discussed.

Growing up in foster care : an Australian longitudinal study of outcomes.

Fernandez E
Fernandez, Elizabeth, ed. Barth, Richard P., ed. How does foster care work : international evidence on outcomes. London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010. 9781849058124: 275-297
This chapter presents selected findings from a longitudinal study on the effects of foster care on children. Participants were 59 children from Barnardos Australia's 'Find A Family Program' in New South Wales. The chapter discusses findings in the outcome areas of cohesion with foster family, relationship with birth family, emotional and behavioural indicators, parent and peer attachment, and self esteem. The chapter also features a commentary by Robert Flynn.

The impact of Sure Start Local programmes on five year olds and their families

Birkbeck College. National Evaluation of Sure Start, Great Britain. Dept. for Education
London : Dept. for Education, 2010.
"The ultimate goal of Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) was to enhance the life chances for young children growing up in disadvantaged neighbourhoods [in Great Britain]. Children in these communities are at risk of doing poorly at school, having trouble with peers and agents of authority (i.e., parents, teachers), and ultimately experiencing compromised life chances. In this report children and families who were seen at 9 months and 3 years of age in the NESS or MCS longitudinal studies are compared to determine whether differences in child and family functioning found at 3 years of age persist until 5 years of age, and whether any other differences emerge."

Family is for life: connections between childhood family experiences and wellbeing in early adulthood.

Price-Robertson R, Smart D and Bromfield L
Family Matters no. 85 2010: 7-17
A large body of international research has shown that the experiences of childhood can exert an enduring influence on an individual's life. However, there is a dearth of recent Australian research demonstrating connections between childhood experiences within the family, and outcomes in adulthood. This article provides prevalence figures for a range of childhood familial experiences (both positive and adverse), and examines the associations between these experiences and psychosocial outcomes in young adulthood. The paper uses data from the Australian Temperament Project, a longitudinal study of children's development that commenced in 1983 and has collected 14 waves of data over the first 24 years of life. Key findings suggest that positive development (or 'doing well') in young adulthood relies on the active investment of caregivers' love, affection and encouragement during childhood, rather than simply the absence of adverse experiences. They also indicate that although young adult survivors of childhood maltreatment may be faring adequately in the social sphere, they are still much more likely than others to suffer from internalising problems such as depression and anxiety.

Turning 18: pathways and plans : Life Chances Study stage 9

Taylor J and Gee N
Fitzroy, Vic. : Brotherhood of St. Laurence, 2010.
Participants in the Life Chances Study are now aged 18. This longitudinal study has followed a cohort of children in Victoria, to investigate the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on people's opportunities and chances in life. This report presents findings from a survey of the 138 participants at age 18, concerning school completion, influences on future plans, and the pathways taken by school leavers. The report also discusses the policy and service implications of these findings.

Children of the 21st century : the first five years

Hansen K, Joshi H and Dex S
Bristol, UK : Policy Press, c2010.
"This book documents the first five years of life of the children of the influential Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking almost 19,000 babies born in 2000 and 2001 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This book is the second in a series of books which will report on the findings from the data and follows on from Children of the 21st century: From birth to nine months (The Policy Press, 2005). It takes an extended look at the children's lives and development as they grow and begin formal education, and the implications for family policy, and service planning in health and social services. The chapters in this book are written by experts across a wide range of social science and health fields and form a unique look at the early lives of children that cuts across disciplinary boundaries."

The impact of parental employment : young people, well-being and educational achievement

Cusworth L
Farnham, England : Ashgate, c2009.
"In this ... study, Linda Cusworth explores the impact of parental employment or unemployment on the educational and emotional well-being of their children. Using theoretical apparatus from Bourdieu and data from the youth survey of the British Household Panel Study, the research in this book analyzes the impact of parental employment on those born between 1978 and 1990. This study is unique in going beyond the educational achievement and later patterns of employment of the young people studied to look at the whole of children's lives, including their attitudes and aspirations, relationships and emotional well-being."

Mental health and well-being of Australian adolescents.

Smart D, Hayes A, Sanson A and Toumbourou J
Bennett, David L, ed. Towns, Susan J, ed. Elliott, Elizabeth J, ed. Merrick, Joav, ed. Challenges in adolescent health : an Australian perspective. New York : Nova Science Publishers, 2009. Health and human development series. 9781607416166: 49-60
The Australian Temperament Project is a longitudinal study on the factors contributing to adjustment and well being over the life course. It commenced in 1983 with 2,443 infants in Victoria, with the most recent wave taking place at age 24. This chapter provides an overview of the project's findings on pathways to vulnerability and resilience in adolescence, and the relationship between risk factors, age of onset, protective factors, and antisocial behaviour, substance use, internalising problems, and positive development. These findings have implications for intervention at key transition points along the pathways, and for targeting environments with high risk factors, rather than at-risk children.

In the name of the child : a developmental approach to understanding and helping children of conflicted and violent divorce

Johnston J, Roseby V and Kuehnle K
New York : Springer, 2009.
"The [book] examines both the immediate and long-term effects of high-conflict divorce on children. By combining three decades of research with clinical experience, the authors trace the developmental problems affecting very young children through adolescence and adulthood, paying special attention to the impact of family violence and the dynamics of parental alienation. The authors present clinical interventions that have proven to be most effective in their own clinical work with families. With a new emphasis on the need for prevention and early intervention, this edition examines how defensive strategies and symptoms of distress in children can consolidate into immutable, long-standing psychopathology in their adult lives. This book contains the policies and procedures that can preempt these high-conflict outcomes in divorcing families. "

Parents' incomes and children's outcomes: a quasi-experiment

Akee R
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2008.
"Identifying the effect of parental incomes on child outcomes is difficult due to the correlation of unobserved ability, education levels and income. Previous research has relied on the use of instrumental variables to identify the effect of a change in household income on the young adult outcomes of the household's children. In this research, we examine the role that an exogenous increase in household incomes due to a government transfer unrelated to household characteristics plays in the long run outcomes for children in affected households. We find that children who are in households affected by the cash transfer program have higher levels of education in their young adulthood and a lower incidence of criminality for minor offenses. These effects differ by initial household poverty status as is expected. Second, we explore two possible mechanisms through which this exogenous increase in household income affects the long run outcomes of children-parental time (quantity) and parental quality. Parental quality and child interactions show a marked improvement while changes in parental time with child does not appear to matter."

Life chances at 16: Life Chances Study stage 8

Taylor J and Nelms L
Fitzroy, Vic. : Brotherhood of St. Laurence, 2008.
"This report from Stage 8 of Life Chances Study explored the situations of 125 young Australians (75 girls and 50 boys) from diverse backgrounds, their current engagement with school and work and their future plans at the age of 16. The survey responses confirmed the continuity and layering of disadvantage: for example, 16 year olds from low-income families with parents with limited education are more likely than their affluent peers to leave school early and less likely to plan university careers. The findings also showed diversity within socioeconomic groups, and posed the challenge of providing effective teaching and transition supports for all young people."

New Hope for the working poor: effects after eight years for families and children

Miller C, Huston A, Duncan G, McLoyd V and Weisner T
United States : MDRC, 2008.
The New Hope demonstration program was designed to improve the situation and well being of low-wage families in the United States. Based on the premise that people who work full time should not be poor, the program provided an earnings supplement to raise income above the poverty level, job-search services, low-cost health insurance, and subsidised child care. The program was launched in 1994 in two inner-city areas in Milwaukee, and ran for 3 years. This report, the final one in a series, summarises the evaluation findings of the program over 8 years - 5 years after the program had ended. It examines the longer-term effects of the program on employment, income, parent well-being, use of child care, health insurance, children's academic performance and participation, children's social behaviour, and adolescents' attitudes to work.

Living on an island : consequences of childhood abuse, attachment disruption and adversity in later life.

Frederick J and Goddard C
Child and Family Social Work v. 13 no. 3 Aug 2008: 300-310
This paper looks at a group of people who had been subjected to abuse and adversity in childhood and adolescence and their personal and social relationships in later life. Twenty people in a provincial city in Victoria, aged 19-50 and from varying family backgrounds, were interviewed in-depth. The study showed that, as attachment theory suggests, those who experienced abuse and adversity in childhood tended to experience relationship difficulties later in life. A key finding of the study was that the majority of interviewees were estranged from their families as a result of a breakdown in relationships. The interviewees had very limited social networks and many had unstable or violent personal relationships. It is suggested by the authors that interventions need to be considered which take account of the adverse experiences of children in order to prevent problems compounding. Also comprehensive and accessible support needs to be provided for those dealing with the effects of these experiences later in life.

Unravelling emotional, behavioural and educational outcomes in a longitudinal study of children in foster-care.

Fernandez E
British Journal of Social Work v. 38 no. 7 Oct 2008: 1283-1301
Children's experience of out-of-home care has the potential to affect their psychosocial outcomes in significant ways. Reporting on a strand of a longitudinal study of children in long-term foster care, this article highlights the interactive contribution of carers, teachers and children to the fostering experience. Carers and teachers assessed children in the study for competencies and problem behaviours using the Achenbach Child Behaviour Checklist and its companion, the Teacher Report Form. High prevalence rates of externalising and Internalising problems were evident, with demonstrated gains in terms of improved scores and adaptive functioning at subsequent assessments as they progressed in placements. The findings reflect the children's experiences of adversity, but also demonstrate the positive outcomes of care; later assessments show closer results between care children and controls. The article discusses the need for a co-ordinated strategy for improved recognition and integrated responses to children's psychological and educational needs that draw on resilience-oriented interventions and target interrelated systems of service delivery.

Ethnic identification, social disadvantage and mental health in adolescence/young adulthood: results of a 25 year longitudinal study.

Marie D, Fergusson D and Boden J
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry v. 42 no. 4 Apr 2008 293-300
The aim of this study was to examine the role of cultural identity and social disadvantage / childhood adversity in a birth cohort of 984 young people to the age of 25. Data were gathered on mental health, cultural identification, socioeconomic factors and childhood adversity as part of a longitudinal study of a New Zealand birth cohort (the Christchurch Health and Development Study). The results showed that those with sole Maori identity had rates of disorder that were 1.28 times higher than those of non Maori, and those of Maori and other identity had rates of disorder that were 1.57 times higher than non Maori. It is suggested that elevated rates of mental disorder among Maori are largely explained by higher exposure to socioeconomic disadvantage and childhood adversity. But even after adjustment, being of sole Maori identity was a protective factor that reduced rates of mental disorder among Maori. The study concluded that risk and protective factors associated with the mental health of young Maori involve an interplay between levels of exposure to social disadvantage or childhood adversity and cultural identity, with secure cultural identity being a factor that may mitigate the effects of exposure to adversity.

Pathways and crime prevention: theory, policy and practice.

France A and Homel R
Cullompton, Devon, UK : Willan Publishing, 2007
Part 1 of this book is about understanding the pathways into and out of crime, while Part 2 explores prevention theory, policy and practice. The book has a strong focus on bringing perspectives from a wide range of disciplines to bear on understanding the developmental pathways and the design of preventive interventions. Part 1 contains the following chapters: Societal access routes and developmental pathways: putting social structure and young people's voice into the analysis of pathways into and out of crime, by Alan France and Ross Homel; Taking the developmental pathways approach to understanding and preventing antisocial behaviour, by Jeanette Lawrence; Adding social contexts to developmental analyses of crime prevention, by Jacqueline Goodnow; Risk factors and pathways into and out of crime: misleading, misinterpreted or mythic? From generative metaphor to professional myth, by Kaye Haw; Young people, pathways and crime: beyond risk factors, by Hazel Kemshall, Louise Marsland, Thilo Boeck and Leigh Dunkerton; Social exclusion, youth transitions and criminal careers: five critical reflections on 'risk', by Robert MacDonald; What mediates the macro-level effects of economic stress on crime?, by Don Weatherburn and Bronwyn Lind; Repeat sexual victimisation among an offender sample: implications for pathways and prevention, by Paul Mazerolle, Margot Legosz, Elena Miceski and Jennifer Sanderson; and, A life-course perspective on bullying, by Jacqueline Homel. Part 2 contains the following chapters: Why early in life is not enough: timing and sustainability in prevention and early intervention, by Alan Hayes; The pervasive impact of poverty on children: tackling family adversity and promoting child development through the Pathways to Prevention project, by Kate Freiberg, Ross Homel and Cherie Lamb; Research-practice-policy intersections in the Pathways to Prevention project: reflections on theory and experience, by Marie Leech, Caryn Anderson and Catherine Mahoney; Leisure as a context for youth development and delinquency prevention, by Linda Caldwell and Edward Smith; The challenges of turning developmental theory into meaningful policy and practice, by Rebecca Denning and Ross Homel; Quality of childcare and the impact on children's social skills in disadvantaged areas of Australia, by Karin Ishimine and David Evans; and, Policies in the UK to promote the well-being of children and young people, by Gillian Pugh. All chapters except those by Haw, Kemshall et al., MacDonald, Caldwell and Smith, and Pugh have been individually indexed.

Beyond adversity: giving kids a chance to shine

Wesley Mission (Sydney, N.S.W.)
Sydney, N.S.W. : Wesley Mission, 2007.
The Wesley Mission surveyed 612 adults who had experienced at least one form of childhood adversity. It examined the factors associated with ongoing problems in the adult lives of some participants, and factors in others that helped them overcome childhood adversity. The three main factors associated with positive adult outcomes were adverse experiences commencing at the age of seven or later, adversity that was not long lasting, and experiencing only one form of adversity. Factors associated with poor adult outcomes were adversity commencing at a younger age, long lasting adversity and multiple types of adversity. Resilience in children was predicted by three broad factors: an individual's easy going temperament and optimism; close relationship with at least one family member and good adult role models; and community factors such as positive school experiences and supportive relationships outside the family. The study recommendations focus on providing opportunities that are external to the family.

Pathways and crime prevention : theory, policy and practice

France A and Homel R
Cullompton, UK : Willan Publishing, c2007.

Exploring the relationship between poverty, childhood adversity and child abuse from the perspective of adulthood.

Frederick J and Goddard C
Child Abuse Review v. 16 no. 5 Sep/Oct 2007 323-341
This article discusses the relationship between early childhood abuse or other adversity and later poverty in adulthood. It reviews risk and protective factors, and family poverty as a risk factor for child abuse, and features results from a study of emergency relief recipients in regional Victoria on their life circumstances, including experience of child abuse, bereavement, family breakdown, foster care, and mental health. The study findings support the ideas of negative chain effects, or pathways into poverty caused by accumulated adversity.

Developmental contexts in middle childhood : bridges to adolescence and adulthood

Huston A and Ripke M
Cambridge England : Cambridge University Press, 2006.
"During middle childhood, the period between ages 5 and 12, children gain the basic tools, skills, and motivations to become productive members of their society ... In this book the editors assemble contributions from fifteen longitudinal studies representing diverse groups in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to learn what developmental patterns and experiences in middle childhood contexts forecast the directions children take when they reach adolescence and adulthood."

Families count : effects on child and adolescent development

Clarke-Stewart A and Dunn J
Cambridge England : Cambridge University Press, 2006.

The role of environmental characteristics in changing the pathways to adolescent anti-social behaviour of high- and low-risk children.

Richardson N, Smart D, Vassallo S, Sanson A and Dussuyer I
2-6 July 2006
The Australian Temperament Project has followed a large group of children since their infancy in 1983. This conference paper looks at the issue of changing pathways to adolescent anti-social behaviour of high and low risk children. The authors concluded that: developmental pathways can change in late childhood and therefore intervention may still be successful at this age; the early adolescent years appear to be a crucial transition point in pathways to adolescent antisocial behaviour; the role of peer relationships is a powerful one; the influence of school bonding and adjustment in the early secondary school years is vital; and the role of environmental factors is important. This document consists of slides from the presentation.

Life Chances: including the children's view.

Taylor J
Australian Journal of Early Childhood v. 31 no. 3 Sep 2006 31-39
What happens to children who are disadvantaged as infants? What do children themselves think about their childhood experiences? The Life Chances Study is a longitudinal study initiated by the Brotherhood of St Laurence to explore the impacts of family income and associated factors on children growing up. The study commenced with 167 children born in inner Melbourne in 1990. All the families have been interviewed at six stages, most recently when the children were aged 11 and 12. Data were collected from the children themselves, their parents and teachers. This article draws on the longitudinal data to discuss some of the changes the families have undergone over the children's early years, including geographic mobility, family structure and family income. Three quarters of the children who were born into low-income families remained in low-income families 12 years later. Case studies of children who have grown up in families on low incomes are presented. The children's own views are outlined and some of the policy implications raised.

Childhood adversity and adult personality.

Rosenman S and Rodgers B
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry v. 40 no. 5 May 2006 482-490
This study explored how recalled childhood adversity affects trait measures of personality in an adult population, and examined the effects of particular adversities on adult personality traits. Participants in the age bands 20 - 24, 40 - 44 and 60 - 64 years were interviewed as part of a longitudinal study of psychological health in Canberra. Childhood domestic adversity has substantial associations with clinically important aspects of personality: neuroticism and negative affect. Only small effects are seen on behavioural inhibition and dissocial behaviour, and no significant effect on extraversion and behavioural activation. These findings contradict clinical belief. Maternal psychological ill health is pre eminent among adversities predicting later disadvantageous traits, even for those traits that had only the slightest association with childhood adversity. This study underlines the importance of childhood domestic adversity and especially maternal psychological ill health as a target for preventive intervention for psychological difficulties at all ages.

The impact of family structure during childhood on later-life attainment

Francesconi M, Jenkins S and Siedler T
London : Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society, 2005.

Lifetime effects : the High/Scope Perry Preschool study through age 40

Schweinhart L
Ypsilanti, MI : High/Scope Press, 2005.
"This study ... examines the lives of 123 African Americans born in poverty and at high risk of failing in school. From 1962-1967, at ages 3 and 4, the subjects were randomly divided into a program group who received a high-quality preschool program based on High/Scope's participatory learning approach and a comparison group who received no preschool program. In the study's most recent phase, 97% of the study participants still living were interviewed at age 40. Additional data were gathered from the subjects' school, social services, and arrest records. The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not have preschool."

Childhood adversity and poverty in adult life.

Frederick J
Australian Social Policy Conference 2005 : looking back, looking forward - a quarter century of social change : University of New South Wales, 20-22 July 2005. Sydney, N.S.W. : Social Policy Research Centre, 2005: 15p
A recent study of people experiencing poverty, involving in-depth interviews, suggests that a complex process leading to poverty in adult life can stem from abusive experiences in childhood. The study aimed to increase understanding of the life circumstances of people who have found it necessary to ask for emergency relief. In-depth interviews were conducted with a sample of people who had received emergency relief in Shepparton, a large provincial centre in Victoria. The size of the sample was set at 20, comprising 10 males and 10 females. In this paper, the experiences of childhood adversity reported by the interviewees are outlined and discussed in the light of theory and research related to development during childhood and adolescence, particularly in relation to risks to adaptive developmental outcomes.

A longitudinal study of adolescent adjustment following family transitions.

Ruschena E, Prior M, Sanson A and Smart D
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry v. 46 no. 4 Apr 2005 353-363
Using longitudinal data from the Australian Temperament Project, this study examined the effects of family transitions - that is, parental separation, divorce, remarriage and death - on the lives of Australian children and adolescents. The study compared outcomes for young people experiencing transitions with a random comparison group whose parents remained together. Although significant differences between the groups were found in measures of parent-teen conflict and parent-child attachment, no significant differences were found in behavioural and emotional adjustment, or in academic outcomes or social competence. The study concluded that children demonstrate resilience in their experiences of family disruption.
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