The Council of Australian Government 2008 plan to ensure all children have access to 15 hours of preschool in the year before school has seen increasing numbers of children utilising Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services. However, there remains a persistent minority of children who still do not access ECEC. These children are likely to live in disadvantaged contexts and have the most to gain from ECEC. The Australian Early Development Census shows that nearly 40 percent of Indigenous children and 35 percent of children living in low-income areas do not attend ECEC and do not accrue the advantages that a high quality ECEC experience offers. Furthermore, they are more likely to live in areas where there is little high quality ECEC provided in both regional and urban areas.
This project will coalesce the evidence on the barriers to ECEC take-up, identify communities where there are better than expected patterns of service use and generate evidence on effective ECEC initiatives in different contexts of local area disadvantage. At the conclusion of the study, a policy brief outlining key findings will be released.