Early childhood development

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 development in the AIFS library catalogue

Study of Early Education and Development (SEED): impact study on early education use and child outcomes up to age four years

Melhuish E and Gardiner J
London : Dept. for Education, 2018.
This report investigates the impact of early education on children's outcomes at 4 years of age in the United Kingdom. It is part of a broader project, the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED), commissioned by the British Government to obtain evidence on the effectiveness of early years education and their new policy to provide free early education for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The study will investigate how variation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) experiences are associated with cognitive and socio-emotional development at two, three, four, five, and seven years of age. This report examines the associations between the amount of differing types of ECEC that children receive aged two to four years and child development at age four, the impact of ECEC quality, and the influence of the home environment and the quality of the parent/child relationship on child development at age four. 3,930 families from different socioeconomic backgrounds are taking part at this stage of the study. A technical annex and summary version have also been published.

The first thousand days - our greatest opportunity

Moore T, Arefadib N, Leone V and West S
Parkville, Vic. : Centre for Community Child Heath, Royal Children's Hospital, 2018.
"The best opportunity to build a strong foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing occurs during the first 1000 days - the period from conception, throughout pregnancy, and during a child's first two years. This Policy Brief outlines the implications of this critical time, identifies factors that place children at risk, and recommends a coordinated approach that addresses children's needs in order to optimise their health and wellbeing, now and into the future."

Study of Early Education and Development (SEED): impact study on early education use and child outcomes up to age three

Melhuish E, Gardiner J and Morris S
London : Dept. for Education, 2017.
This report investigates the impact of early education on children's outcomes at 3 years of age in the United Kingdom. It is part of a broader project, the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED), commissioned by the British Government to obtain evidence on the effectiveness of early years education and their new policy to provide free early education for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The study will investigate how variation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) experiences are associated with cognitive and socio-emotional development at two, three, four, five, and seven years of age. This report examines the impact and take-up of child care at 2-years of age, the impact on child development and pro-social behaviour, and the impact of the home environment. 4,583 children from different socioeconomic backgrounds are taking part at this stage of the study. A technical annex and summary version have also been published.

Brain development in early childhood: an ecological perspective

Baker S
Subiaco, WA : CoLab, Telethon Kids Institute, 2017
"The early years of life are characterised by significant opportunity, rapid change and accelerated development which is unparalleled by any other subsequent stage of life. This Evidence Report highlights the importance of the early years and the neuroscience of early brain development and describes the crucial role of relationships, experiences and stress in shaping the developing brain structure and function."

The impact of poverty on the developing child

Monks H
Subiaco, WA : CoLab, Telethon Kids Institute, 2017
This paper outlines what is known about the impact of poverty on children's development. Sections include: economic inequality and poverty in Australia; childhood poverty and life-course outcomes; the biology and neurobiology of adversity; the role of executive function skills; and poverty, family functioning and parenting. Poverty in early childhood is detrimental to lifelong health, wellbeing, and social and economic participation, so intervening in the early years is crucial to help break the cycle of disadvantage. A brief snapshot version of this research has also been published.

Supporting brain development.

Westwell M
Deakin, ACT : Early Childhood Australia, 2016.
This booklet provides an overview of brain development and how parents and educators can use this knowledge to support young children. Topics include: what the brain needs to be healthy, the impact of experience and the environment on brain development, genes, healthy stress versus toxic stress, and the importance of challenge and play for child development.

Early childhood development over time for a cohort of Australian Aboriginal children living in an urban environment.

Grace R, Elcombe E, Knight J, McMahon C, McDonald J and Comino E
Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology v. 15 2017: 35-52
This article presents findings on the development of Aboriginal children from infancy to 5 years old in an urban setting. Data is taken from the Gudaga Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of the health, development and service use of urban Aboriginal children and their families in Sydney, New South Wales. The article reports on physical and cognitive development at 12 months, 3 years and 4.5 years of age, and considers whether various family, child, and community factors have influenced development, such as gender, preschool attendance, child protection involvement, books in the home, parental out experience of home care or family violence, parental drug use, and maternal education and age. The findings highlight the benefits of preschool attendance and reading at home.

Contexts of disadvantage

Warren D and Edwards B
Canberra, ACT : Dept. of Social Services, 2017.
Growing up in poor households or poor neighbourhoods or attending a disadvantaged school have all been found to be independently associated with poorer child outcomes, but the mechanisms behind these 'contexts of disadvantage' are less well understood. This paper adds to the research by examining the associations between family, neighbourhood, and school level disadvantage and children's cognitive and social outcomes, utilising data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). The analysis finds that the experience of any one of these types of disadvantage is detrimental, but furthermore, different types of disadvantage have stronger influences at different times during childhood. For example, in the early years of childhood, the influence of family disadvantage is stronger than that of neighbourhood disadvantage. However, the relationship between disadvantage and child outcomes is more complex and varied than merely a simple association, with implications for policy and intervention.

The first thousand days: an evidence paper

Moore T, Arefadib N, Deery A and West S
Parkville, Vic. : Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, 2017.
This paper synthesises current Australian and international evidence on the biological, social, global, and environmental influences on child development. It examines the impact of early experiences in the 'first thousand days' on all aspects of development and functioning, including physical health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning, and cognitive development, as well as the underlying determinants of health. Experts have long been aware that the period from conception to age 2 is an important period of development, but researchers have only recently started to unlock the processes by which genes, experiences, and environments interact to influence development. This paper is part of the 'Strong Foundations: Getting it Right in the First 1000 Days' collaborative project.

Child maltreatment and emotion socialization : associations with executive function in the preschool years.

Fay-Stammbach T, Hawes D and Meredith P
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 64 Feb 2017: 1-12
This article examines executive function among young child abuse victims, and whether parents' emotion socialisation behaviours moderate the relationship between maltreatment and executive function in this age group. 107 children aged 4-5 years and their caregivers participated.

Association between moderate and late preterm birth and neurodevelopment and social-emotional development at age 2 years.

Cheong J, Doyle L, Burnett A, Lee K, Walsh J, Potter C, Treyvaud K, Thompson D, Olsen J, Anderson P and Spittle A
JAMA Pediatrics v. 171 no. 4 2017: Article e164805
It has been thought that moderate-to-late premature babies did not experience significant long-term problems, and so attention has been focused on premature babies born before 32 weeks. However, this article presents research that finds moderate-to-late premature children exhibit developmental delay compared with full-term-born children at two years of age, in particular for language for language development. The research collected data on babies born in one hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, between December 7, 2009 to March 26, 2014, comparing cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional development at 2 years, with reference to prematurity. The findings will help inform the targeting of health and education interventions.

Children's mathematical and verbal competence in different early education and care programmes in Australia.

Hildenbrand C, Niklas F, Cohrssen C and Tayler C
Journal of Early Childhood Research v. 15 no. 2 Jun 2017: 144-157
This article investigates the relationship between different types of early childhood education and care programmes and children's mathematical and verbal skills. Drawing on data from the E4Kids longitudinal study, it compares children's attendance at different types of early childhood education and care programmes - including formal and informal care - and their development of mathematical and verbal competencies after 12 months. 1314 children participated.

Childcare use and its role in Indigenous child development: evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children in Australia

Azpitarte F, Chigavazira A, Kalb G, Farrant B, Perales F and Zubrick S
Parkville, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, 2016.
This paper investigates the use of formal childcare by Indigenous children and its impact on cognitive development in preschool. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). The study found that the use of formal childcare at ages 2 to 3 years old is much lower for Indigenous children than for children in the general Australian population, though participation rates are higher for advantaged Indigenous families. Traditionally, Indigenous families take a more communal approach to the care and education of children, and, indeed, about 95% of Indigenous children had used informal childcare by the age of five. In regards to cognitive development, Indigenous children who participated in childcare performed better on a range of cognitive outcomes measured across the preschool years than Indigenous children who never participated in childcare. Similar to research for the general population, the findings suggest that it is the relatively disadvantaged children who benefit more from attending childcare than their advantaged peers.

Childcare use and its role in Indigenous child development: evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children in Australia

Azpitarte F, Chigavazira A, Kalb G, Farrant B, Perales F and Zubrick S
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2016.
This paper investigates the use of formal childcare by Indigenous children and its impact on cognitive development in preschool. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). The study found that the use of formal childcare at ages 2 to 3 years old is much lower for Indigenous children than for children in the general Australian population, though participation rates are higher for advantaged Indigenous families. Traditionally, Indigenous families take a more communal approach to the care and education of children, and, indeed, about 95% of Indigenous children had used informal childcare by the age of five. In regards to cognitive development, Indigenous children who participated in childcare performed better on a range of cognitive outcomes measured across the preschool years than Indigenous children who never participated in childcare. Similar to research for the general population, the findings suggest that it is the relatively disadvantaged children who benefit more from attending childcare than their advantaged peers.

The impact of universal prekindergarten on family behavior and child outcomes.

Chor E, Andresen M and Kalil A
Economics of Education Review v. 55 Dec 2016: 168-181
This article investigates the impact of universal prekindergarten for four-year-old children, focusing on whether public investment in early childhood education is best targeted towards socioeconomically disadvantaged children. It takes advantage of a natural experiment in Queensland in which the public pre-kindergarten program for four-year old children was eliminated in 2007, with investment instead moved to a preparatory year of schooling for five-year-olds children. The article estimates the impact of access to universal prekindergarten on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes and considers variations by socioeconomic status. The findings suggest that the positive effects of universal prekindergarten provision on children's development are driven by the use of higher-quality formal early education and care.

Growing up in Ireland, National Longitudinal Study of Children: non-parental childcare and child cognitive outcomes at age 5

McGinnity F, Russell H and Murray A
Dublin : Stationery Office, 2015.
"This report investigates the experience of non-parental care in early life and its association with children's cognitive development at age five using a large representative sample of children (circa 9,000) from the Growing Up in Ireland survey. This survey collected data on the same children in infancy in 2008/2009, at age three in 2011 and at age five in 2013 ... The report addresses a number of questions. What do we know from the Growing Up in Ireland survey about the nature and extent of non-parental childcare in infancy and at age three, prior to participation in the Free Preschool Year? Do children who experienced different types of non-parental childcare at age three differ in terms of their vocabulary and non-verbal reasoning from those who have just experienced parental care? Does participation in different forms of childcare influence the change over time in vocabulary and non-verbal reasoning scores between ages three and five? Does the influence of non-parental care differ for advantaged and disadvantaged children? ... The report distinguishes between relative care (usually by a grandparent), non-relative care (typically a childminder) and centre-based care (e.g. creche) as main non-parental care types at age three. The report also considers some aspects of the children's experience of the Free Preschool Year, a major policy initiative in recent years in the area of Early Care and Education in Ireland ..."--Executive summary.

Literature review of the impact of early childhood education and care on learning and development: working paper

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2015.
This literature review investigates the complex relationship between children's developmental outcomes and their attendance at early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs. It examines Australian and international literature for the impact of both the quality and quantity of ECEC, the impact for different age groups, and which groups of children benefit most. The Australian early childhood education and care policy context is also described.

Parenting influences on executive function in early childhood : a review.

Fay-Stammbach T, Hawes D and Meredith P
Child Development Perspectives v. 8 no. 4 Dec 2014: 258264
Though extreme disturbances in caregiving - such as abuse - are associated with deficits in executive function in young children, less is known about the influences of more common parenting processes. This article provides a review of the available evidence. It investigates whether parenting quality is associated with early executive function, what risk or protective factors moderate associations between parenting and executive function, and the mechanisms involved. The research gaps are also discussed.

Locus of control and its intergenerational implications for early childhood skill formation

Lekfuangfu W
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"We propose a model in which parents have a subjective belief about the impact of their investment on the early skill formation of their children. This subjective belief is determined in part by locus of control (LOC), i.e., the extent to which individuals believe that their actions can influence future outcomes. Consistent with the theory, we show that maternal LOC measured at the 12th week of gestation strongly predicts early and late child cognitive and noncognitive outcomes. We also utilize the variation in maternal LOC to help improve the specification typically used in the estimation of skill production function parameters."--Author abstract.

Early child care and child outcomes: the role of grandparents

Del Boca D, Piazzalunga D and Pronzato C
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"In this paper, we focus on the impact of early grandparents' care on child cognitive outcomes, in the short and medium term, using data from the Millennium Cohort Study (UK). Compared with children looked after in a formal care centre, children cared by grandparents (as well as parents) are better in naming objects, but worse in tests concerning basic concepts development, problem-solving, mathematical concepts and constructing ability. In order to assess a causal link between early care and child outcomes, we employ panel methods and instrumental variables techniques that confirm that grandparental care matters more for naming ability while formal care is more important for problem-solving ability and basic concepts development. These results hide strong heterogeneities: on the one hand, the positive association between grandparents' care and child outcomes is stronger for children in more advantaged households; on the other hand, the negative association is significant only for children in more disadvantaged households."--Author abstract.

Early maternal time investment and early child outcomes

Del Bono E
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"Using large longitudinal survey data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, this paper estimates the effect of maternal time inputs on early child development. We find that maternal time is a quantitatively important determinant of skill formation and that its effect declines with child age. There is evidence of a long shadow of the effect of early maternal time inputs on later outcomes, especially in the case of cognitive skill development. In the case of non-cognitive development, this effect disappears when we account for skill persistence."--Author abstract.

Does early child care help or hurt children's development?

Felfe C and Lalive R
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"More children than ever attend center-based care early in life. We study whether children who attend center-based care before age 3 have better or worse language and motor skills, socio-emotional maturity, and school readiness just before entering primary school. In data covering about 36,000 children in one West German state, we use a marginal treatment effects framework to show how causal effects vary with observed characteristics of children, parents, and care centers and with unobserved preferences for center-based care. Early center-based care benefits children with less educated mothers or foreign parents. Benefits increase when parents have a preference for center-based care. Centers with small playgroups and with experienced, trained, or full-time working staff produce the best effects. A modest expansion of the number of places in early care centers improves children's development, whereas a strong expansion has no significant effects."--Author abstract.

Are parental welfare work requirements good for disadvantaged children?: evidence from age-of-youngest-child exemptions

Herbst C
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"This paper assesses the short-run impact of first-year maternal employment on low-income children's cognitive development. The identification strategy exploits an important feature of the U.S.'s welfare work requirement rules - namely, age-of-youngest-child exemptions - as a source of quasi-experimental variation in maternal employment. The 1996 welfare reform law empowered states to exempt adult recipients from the work requirements until the youngest child reaches a certain age. This led to substantial variation in the amount of time that mothers can remain home with a newborn child. I use this variation to estimate local average treatment effects of work-requirement-induced increases in maternal employment. Using a sample of infants from the Birth cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, the OLS results show that children of working mothers score higher on a test of cognitive ability. However, the IV estimates reveal sizable negative effects of early maternal employment. An auxiliary analysis of mechanisms finds that working mothers experience an increase in depressive symptoms, and are less likely to breast-feed and read to their children. In addition, such children are exposed to non-parental child care arrangements at a younger age, and they spend more time in these settings throughout the first year of life."--Author abstract.

Growing Up in Scotland: characteristics of pre-school provision and their association with child outcomes

Bradshaw P, Lewis G and Hughes T
Edinburgh : Scottish Government, 2014
"The aim of this report is to use data from the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study combined with administrative data provided by the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland to provide a detailed understanding of the characteristics of pre-school provision in Scotland and how it is experienced by children who live in different areas and who have different social background characteristics. Furthermore, the report seeks to explore the association between the characteristics of the pre-school setting a child attends and their cognitive and social development. "

Growing up in Ireland, National Longitudinal Study of Children: development from birth to three years

Williams J
Dublin : Stationery Office, 2013.
'Growing Up in Ireland' is the national longitudinal study investigating how early experiences in childhood affect later outcomes. Two cohorts of children are being followed. This report investigates child development in the first three years of life, with findings from the Infant Cohort of over 11,100 children and their families. It discusses child outcomes and well-being and three of the more influential contexts - parenting, childcare, and financial circumstances - in which their development is taking place.

A practice guide for working with families from pre-birth to eight years: Engaging Families in the Early Childhood Development Story

Benveniste J
Carlton South, Vic. : Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood, c2013.
This practice guide was developed to help professionals and practitioners communicate in a consistent way to parents and families about early childhood development. It features information, frameworks, and tips regarding brain development, the impact of parenting, promoting parent self-efficacy, working with parents from a strengths-based approach, and community engagement. This guide is a product of the 'Engaging Families in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Story', a government project to maximise early childhood outcomes by better informing parents and carers on the neuroscience of early childhood development. Parents had reported that they often received inconsistent and confusing parenting information from different professionals and practitioners across different disciplines.

The tyrannies of distance and disadvantage : factors related to children's development in regional and disadvantaged areas of Australia

Edwards B and Baxter J
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2013.
This report examines whether children in regional areas face a 'tyranny of distance' or a 'tyranny of disadvantage'. In other words, are the gaps in children's development in regional areas compared to children living in the major cities explained by their distance from the major cities (remoteness), or is it because many regional areas are disadvantaged compared to the cities? The analyses make use of data from 'Growing up in Australia, The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children' (LSAC) to report on differences in family demographic and economic characteristics, parent wellbeing and parenting style, family social capital and access to services, and children's educational activities, and to relate those differences to how children are developing. The study includes children aged from 0-1 up to 8-9 years old.

Fathers' leave, fathers' involvement and child development : are they related? : evidence from four countries

Huerta M, Adema W, Baxter J, Han W, Lausten M, Lee R and Waldfogel J
Paris, France : Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD, 2013.
Previous research has shown that young children with involved fathers have better cognitive and behavioural outcomes than their peers. Research also shows that fathers who take time off work around childbirth are more likely to be involved in childcare related activities than fathers who do not do so. This paper examines whether taking leave around the time of birth is associated with father's involvement in childcare-related activities and whether their involvement translates into positive child outcomes. Using data from countries with different types of work-family policy - Australia, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States - it compares children's behavioural and cognitive outcomes, the timing and intensity of maternal employment, child care arrangements, and family characteristics. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) from Canada, the Danish Longitudinal Survey of Children (DALSC), the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) from the United Kingdom, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) from the United States.

Jurisdictional, socioeconomic and gender inequalities in child health and development : analysis of a national census of 5-year-olds in Australia.

Brinkman S, Gialamas A, Rahman A, Mittinty M, Gregory T, Silburn S, Goldfeld S, Zubrick S, Carr V, Janus M, Hertzman C and Lynch J
BMJ Open v. 2 no. 5 2012: e001075
Using data from the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), for 261,147 children aged 5 years old, this article examines jurisdictional, geographic, socioeconomic, and gender inequality in child health and development across Australia. Developmental vulnerability is measured in five domains: physical well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge.

Kids and trauma recovery - practice reflections from the recent Bruce Perry tour.

Wilcox K
Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse Newsletter no. 50 Spring 2012: 4-5
Dr Bruce Perry, a leading expert in children's mental health, recently completed a workshop tour of Australia. This article highlights some of the key points from the workshop, regarding the impact of trauma on infant and child brain development and good practice with children exposed to domestic violence - to be both trauma-informed and neurodevelopment-informed.
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