New Australia-first tool aims to improve service delivery to children and families
Child Development Atlas Project Manager Megan Bell and GIS Specialist Scott Sims
A sophisticated new mapping tool plans to link data from multiple government agencies to identify locations in Western Australia that could be more efficiently targeted by service providers to improve the health and well-being of children in the State.
Telethon Kids Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis said the Child Development Atlas would use geo-spatial technology to inform policy making, research and service delivery, as well as improve coordination between service providers. This technology maps population-level data, grouped into levels of geography (e.g., suburbs), so that patterns in the data can be more readily identified and used for service planning and delivery.
The Atlas will be created thanks to The Ian Potter Foundation which has given a grant of $406,743 over three years to the Telethon Kids Institute who will partner with Western Australian Government agencies to develop the Atlas.
The first stage of the project will be to complete a thorough feasibility analysis which will be completed in the first half of 2018.
The idea for the Atlas came from the Institute’s innovative Developmental Pathways Project (DPP) team which has pioneered population-level data linkage across multiple government service sectors in WA, and the Government agencies they work with. The DPP links de-identified population-level data from WA government departments and agencies to investigate risk and protective factors which lead to differences in developmental outcomes for children and youth.
“Our Developmental Pathways Project team has led the nation with its research used to inform whole of government intervention and prevention strategies, and evaluate and monitor existing initiatives and policies,” Professor Carapetis said. “The Atlas will take this work a step further by building an interactive tool to develop comprehensive child developmental, health, and social profiles by combining data from Human Service departments, such as Health, Education and Communities, and overlaying this data with details of services provided to children within WA.
“The success of the DPP’s work to date has relied upon the strong partnership it has with State Government agencies for the past 12 years and we look forward to continuing this collaboration as we jointly develop this Australia-first tool.”
The development of the Atlas will also be supported by CoLab, a new partnership between the Telethon Kids Institute and the Minderoo Foundation.
CoLab Director Professor Donna Cross said the Atlas would support collaboration and coordination of services across the government, which was one of CoLab’s key aims.
“The Atlas will enable evaluation of communities and services over time, and encourage long term planning for communities in need, which is what is desperately needed,” Professor Cross said.
Minderoo Foundation Chief Executive Officer Nicola Forrest said the Child Development Atlas would address the critical need to holistically understand the services available for children and families.
“With this understanding we can more effectively target community needs and enable better outcomes for children,” Mrs Forrest said. “The Minderoo Foundation is delighted that the Ian Potter Foundation has partnered with CoLab in developing this initiative and looks forward to ongoing collaboration.”
Mr Charles Goode AC, Chair of The Ian Potter Foundation said the Foundation was pleased to support the Child Development Atlas, the first resource of its kind in Australia to bring together a range of data sources that were specifically focused on children's development.
“The Atlas will provide a comprehensive map for Government, communities and services to use in planning, service delivery and policy making resulting in targeted and better integrated services and interventions that will improve children’s learning, wellbeing and development in Western Australia,” Mr Goode said.
The Atlas will be used to:
quickly identify the proportion of children with particular outcomes, by area (eg., mental and physical health, literacy and numeracy scores, poor school attendance);
profile a selected geographic area relative to the WA average, such as a report on rates of child development outcomes, demographics, and/or environmental variables;
identify child and family-oriented program and service locations by geographic area;
obtain baseline and subsequent data for evaluation (from multiple data sources); and
monitor trends in child development and wellbeing.