Supporting families experiencing significant vulnerability and/or disadvantage access early childhood education for their pre-school aged children

Ms Johanne Gow1, Mr Anthony Shannon1

1Department Of Communities And Justice, Strawberry Hills, Australia

Approximately 19% of children in NSW begin school vulnerable on one or more AEDC domains, and 9.6% of children are developmentally vulnerable on two or more.  In communities  where there is significant disadvantage, these level can more than double.

The NSW government recently launched the Brighter Beginnings: the First 2000 Days of Life initiative which seeks to promote collaboration across government with within communities to better meet the needs of young children and their parents, towards optimal child development, from conception to school.

One of the projects under Brighter Beginnings is the Supporting Families into ECE project.

Participation in quality early childhood education has been shown to make a positive difference for a child’s development outcomes.  Research suggests that this is particularly the case for children who have experienced early adverse experiences and/or significant disadvantage. The lived experience of families, practice expertise, and research evidence tells us that there are often significant barriers to enrolment and participation in early childhood education for the children of families doing it tough. Many of these are non-fee barriers.

The Supporting families into ECE project has been co-commissioned by the NSW Departments of Communities and Justice, and Education to address non-fee barriers to participation in early childhood education for children from families experiencing complex need/disadvantage.  Trial locations were identified using AEDC data, together with data on socio-economic disadvantage, pre-school participation and vulnerability.  The four communities identified are diverse. The design of a local model to respond to local barriers will occur within communities by local stakeholders.

The project is being evaluated, with AEDC scores as one of the key measures of success.

NSW Department of Communities and Justice would like to share stories, challenges and learnings of the project (as at March 2021), and the significance of AEDC data on this journey.


Johanne Gow is Manager Early Intervention, Early Intervention, Volunteering (EIVY), Strategy, Policy and Commissioning, NSW Department of Communities and Justice.  Johanne’s team leads Supporting Families into ECE project for EIVY.

Anthony Shannon is Director, Early Intervention, Volunteering (EIVY), Strategy, Policy and Commissioning Division, NSW Department of Communities and Justice. Among other responsibilities, Anthony manages the Targeted Early Intervention program, which operates in communities across NSW.