Measuring Up: Equity Lessons from Australia’s Early Childhood Development Census
Australia is the only country in the world that regularly collects comprehensive information about the holistic development of every child entering its schools. This information, gathered through the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), guides national and state policy and informs program development. Over the past 12 years, AEDC data have shown progress in reaching the most vulnerable children. The AEDC, along with population-based measurement more broadly, is useful for the United States because it can inform current discussions of equity in access to early childhood services.
With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, six U.S.-based early childhood leaders traveled to Australia earlier this year to attend the AEDC National Conference in Melbourne. The group met with government officials, community-based organizations, and parents to draw lessons applicable in the United States from Australia’s experience using the AEDC. In September, an Australian delegation will meet with research, policy, and funding leaders in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom with the goal of taking lessons about service integration approaches and research back to Australia.
The delegation’s visit to Canada and the United States culminated in a webinar and panel discussion on September 19 from noon to 1:00 p.m. eastern time. Free and open to the public, this webinar was particularly valuable for policymakers, program administrators, and opinion leaders who fund, manage, and study early childhood programs. Presenters included the following:
- Yasmin Harman-Smith, Ph.D., research fellow and deputy director of the Fraser Mustard Centre (Adelaide), an innovative initiative between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australia Department for Education aimed at improving research translation
- Kimberly Boller, Ph.D., senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research
- Claire Gibbons, Ph.D., senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, moderator
Panel members include the following:
- efren aguilar, geographic information systems unit chief, UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities
- Debi Mathias, director, Quality Rating and Improvement System National Learning Network, BUILD Initiative