Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Jeff Borland, Professor of Economics, University of Melbourne

What happens in our first three years profoundly influences the rest of our lives.

Children who encounter extreme adversity in those early years – including prolonged exposure to physical or sexual abuse and living in a highly stressful family environment – are likely to suffer major impairments to their development that can lead to lower educational achievement and workforce participation, involvement in risky behaviours including criminal activity, and lifelong health problems.

These things are expensive, both to society and to governments.

It has long been established overseas through trials of programs implemented in the United States in the 1960s that targeted interventions that direct high-quality care and education to highly disadvantaged children can have big impacts.

Early days, but we've found a way to lift the IQ and resilience of Australia's most vulnerable children Melbourne Institute Yet often the refrain here has been: “Well, these programs worked in the United States, but that was a long time ago in a different environment – how do we know they would work in Australia?” For the past decade, as part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers, we have been taking up this challenge - trialling a new type of intervention in Australia in partnership with the Children’s Protection Society, an independent not-for-profit child welfare organisation in Melbourne. Developed by Associate Professor Brigid Jordan and Dr Anne Kennedy, it is called the Early Years Education Program (EYEP). Today in Canberra our research team will release the results of an evaluation of its effects after 24 months. Highly targeted To be eligible for the trial, children had to be aged less than 36 months, assessed as having two or more defined risk factors, be currently engaged with family services or child protection services, and have early education as part of their care plan. Compared with a general population of children, these children had lower birth weight and, at the time of entry to the trial, compromised development of intelligence as measured on IQ tests, weaker language and motor skills and adaptive behaviour. Their primary caregivers had lower levels of labour force engagement and family income and greater levels of psychological distress than other caregivers. A total of 145 children from 99 families were recruited to the trial; 72 in the intervention group and 73 in the control group. Those in the intervention group were offered three years of care and education in EYEP (50 weeks per year and five hours per day each week from Monday to Friday). The novelty of EYEP is its twin objectives to address the consequences of family stress on children’s development and to redress their learning deficiencies. The key features of the program are high staff/child ratios (1:3 for children under three years, and 1:6 for children over three years), qualified and experienced staff, a rigorously developed curriculum, and an in-house infant mental health consultant who assessed each child and drew up an individualised learning plan. Higher IQs, language skills and resilience The estimated impact on IQ was 5 to 7 points. This is a relatively large impact, representing about one-third to one-half of a standard deviation, which is a measure of deviation from what was expected. By comparison, recent reviews of early years demonstration programs in the US have generally found average impacts on IQ of about one-quarter of a standard deviation. The estimated impact on within-child protective factors related to resilience was about one-third of a standard deviation. The proportion of children enrolled in the program who required clinical attention for social-emotional development was 30 percentage points lower than the control group, a substantial impact. Primary caregivers of the children, usually parents, had a reduced level of distress on the 30-point Kessler Psychological Distress K6 Scale of about 1.5 points. The impact on IQ appears to have been concentrated in the initial twelve months of the program. Other outcomes show a more pronounced impact after the second year. For protective factors related to resilience the estimated impact size after 24 months is two to three times larger than after twelve months. Proof of concept The results so far provide a “proof of concept” showing that it is possible to design and implement a program to improve the lives of children who experience extreme adversity. And they confirm the necessity and value of having a program that is targeted at children experiencing the worst adversity. Considerable time and effort were required to initiate and maintain day-to-day contact with children who otherwise would have been unlikely to attend. We have made enormous progress in dealing with childhood diseases. While there is still a way to go in the trial, these results hold out the possibility of doing the same for children who experience extreme adversity.

Authors: Jeff Borland, Professor of Economics, University of Melbourne

Read more http://theconversation.com/early-days-but-weve-found-a-way-to-lift-the-iq-and-resilience-of-australias-most-vulnerable-children-119003

Writers Wanted

Not feeling motivated to tackle those sneaky COVID kilos? Try these 4 healthy eating tips instead

arrow_forward

Sydney Festival review: The Rise and Fall of Saint George shows the transformative power of music

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Business News

7 foolproof tips for bidding successfully at a property auction

Auctions can be beneficial for prospective buyers, as they are transparent and fair. If you reach the limit you are willing to pay, you can simply walk away. Another benefit of an auction is tha...

Dominique Grubisa - avatar Dominique Grubisa

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

Avoid These Mistakes When Changing up Your Executive Career

Switching up industries is a valid move at any stage in your career, even if you’re an executive. Doing so at this stage can be a lot more intimidating, however, and it can be quite difficult know...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion