Telethon Kids and the Minderoo Foundation, working together as CoLab, are partnering with the Western Australian Government on an unprecedented commitment to child development. The Early Years Initiative will span 10 years, four communities, and thousands of children.
CoLab, in collaboration with leading Australian government and non-government early childhood organisations, is developing a long-term communication initiative to transform the way early childhood development and learning is understood in Australia. The Early Childhood Development and Learning Collaboration is being facilitated by CoLab and the Centre for Community Child Health.
The Declaration was developed to support our collaborators’ expressed need for an agreed position on the state of current early years’ evidence, including policy and practice recommendations. More than 70 leading early childhood researchers, policymakers and practitioners contributed to the Declaration which will become a foundation for CoLab’s future research collaborations.
CoLab, in partnership with The Ian Potter Foundation, has funded the development of the Child Development Atlas (CDA), an interactive tool that plans to map data from multiple government agencies to build comprehensive child development, health and social profiles of WA communities. These neighbourhood social profiles will be overlayed with service delivery profiles to support policy makers, service providers and communities in providing effective service delivery to meet community needs. The project team will work with Government agencies to build a central location for currently siloed data. CoLab is further supporting this initiative by facilitating partnerships with service providers and communities to inform service delivery for WA children and families.
CoLab App for Families
The CoLab Parent App will provide learning activities and ‘in-the-moment’ advice and practical tips to strengthen core capabilities among parents and their children aged 0 to five years. These core skills, also termed ‘executive function’, enable individuals to successfully navigate the routine tasks of daily life, by helping them to stay focused, remember and follow instructions, make decisions, shift priorities and control impulses. The App will involve close collaboration with leading International experts in child development and parenting behaviour, and ongoing consultation with community members to provide guidance on acceptability of features and refinement of key messages.
The WA Commissioner for Children and Young People (CCYP) Outcomes Framework
Telethon Kids and CoLab are supporting the Commissioner for Children and Young People WA to develop a project that aims to increase our shared understanding about whether life is improving for children and young people. Together we are developing a framework to monitor three core aspects of children’s wellbeing - safety, health and learning. This framework will be used by CCYP to inform his monitoring role (including an annual report to Parliament) and will remain consistent over the coming years.
Economic Understanding of Early Childhood Services
Early Years Economic Think Tank
CoLab is bringing together economic experts across the health, education, labour and welfare economic disciplines to identify research priorities for economic analysis of investment in the early years in Australia. These research priorities will link the currently siloed understanding of return on investment across the four economic disciplines to provide a comprehensive economic analysis of the early years in Australia.
By taking this ‘whole of life’ approach, the research will build a holistic understanding of the long-term benefits to children’s health, education and wellbeing and to society by investing in early childhood. It will also seek to quantify the costs of not taking positive action in the early years. The results of this research will support policymakers and practitioners by helping to prioritise services to achieve the best possible outcomes.
In 2018 CoLab will continue working with leading national and international economists to develop a systematic Cochrane-type Review that will encompass multi-sectoral evidence to support investment in the early years.
Place-based Approaches for Families and Communities
Midland Demonstration Project
CoLab is supporting the Midland community group, ‘we the people', to build local support for a demonstration project in the Midland region of Perth. Demonstration projects test and measure the effects of potential program changes in communities. The Midland project aims to improve the life outcomes of children and families experiencing vulnerability by supporting the uptake of services through better service coordination and design, and reducing the barriers to access. The project partners are working with key Midland service providers and community representatives to identify issues facing families experiencing adversity and what the best approaches to supporting them might be.
The findings of a research study undertaken by CoLab that looked at the developmental status of children aged zero to eight in the Midland region and the services that support them and their families was released in April 2018.