In Australia, one in five children currently starts school vulnerable in several areas of development.
These developmentally vulnerable children are placed at a disadvantage compared to their peers, a disadvantage that can follow them throughout their lives.
Children who experience disadvantage are being held back by our current system. These children often do not receive the learning, development and financial security opportunities they need to succeed. The good news is that this disadvantage can be reduced by improving access to early childhood education.
The importance of early childhood education
With the right conditions, early childhood education and care (ECEC) can set children up for life. It helps them build vital social and emotional skills and supports brain development during a time of rapid growth.
Early education also has a range of additional advantages for families and wider society. These include freeing up parents to work and earn an income, helping communities to flourish through new connections, and strengthening opportunities for ongoing participation in education and work.
Changing the system
At the Front Project, we work across and within Australia’s ECEC system through a powerful combination of direct support for early learning professionals, system-wide collaboration, research and advocacy to encourage change in the ECEC system. Through these actions we aim to reduce disadvantage by:
- improving the quality of the care and education that children experience in every location or setting
- making sure all children have access to quality ECEC that meets their needs
- ensuring ECEC is affordable for every family
- enabling families to improve their financial stability.
Find out more about how the Front Project changes the ECEC system to address disadvantage.
Every year, more than 60,000 Australian children, or one in five, start school with significant vulnerabilities. The risk is higher for children from regional and remote communities and low-income households.
When starting school, these children have not yet developed the foundational capabilities associated with early learning such as communication, relationship building, understanding instructions, regulating emotions, foundational literacy and math skills.
These vulnerabilities can exist for a variety of reasons, including learning and development challenges, experiences of trauma, intergenerational disadvantage or simply an inability to access quality ECEC.
Through our work, the Front Project aims to remove these obstacles. We want to ensure that all children across Australia can receive equal early learning opportunities.
The Front Project is committed to ensuring children who stand to benefit the most from participating in quality ECEC can access the services they need. This means our work keeps the needs of First Nations families front of mind.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are twice as likely to display significant developmental vulnerabilities when they start school. Two in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children start school without the foundations they need to learn and develop new skills, compared to one in five children from the broader population.
The Front Project supports First Nations Voices through the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) and other Aboriginal-controlled organisations.
One of the most effective approaches to reduce financial hardship and lift families out of poverty is to help parents and carers find and stay in jobs by providing accessible and affordable ECEC.
The Front Project advocates for equal access to quality care and education for all children, regardless of their family circumstances. By improving access to early learning services, more parents and carers can continue working or return to work earlier. In turn, this helps reduce the number of children growing up in circumstances where financial hardship can have an impact on their ability to learn and thrive.
High-quality early education leads to better outcomes for children, particularly those children experiencing disadvantage.
Early childhood education increases the number of children who start school primed and on track to learn. It is one of the most effective strategies we have for boosting educational and personal achievements. Our work supports Australian children to access quality, universal early childhood education, including two years of preschool.