AJEC Vol. 42 No. 1 – Risk burden, participation in early childhood education and care, and child outcomes
Australian National University
In 2008, Australian Commonwealth and state and territory governments signed a National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, committing to provide universal access to quality early childhood education in the year before full-time schooling. The agreement noted that early childhood is a critical development period and quality early childhood education programs particularly benefit children at risk of poorer outcomes. Using the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, we show that for children aged four to five years in 2008, baseline risk factors were significantly associated with a range of poorer outcomes in the early school years and these associations were not offset by participation in a preschool program or attendance at day care without a preschool program. These results serve as a benchmark for the success of subsequent initiatives to provide children with universal access to quality preschool programs.