Researchers from the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at UNSW Sydney have been awarded $AUD399,000 by the Australian Research Council (ARC) to investigate engagement in early childhood education in the context of disadvantage.

The ARC Linkage Project responds to enduring inequalities in children’s participation in high quality early childhood education and care (ECEC).

Families today face insecure labour markets and multiple challenges in accessing early childhood education and care for their children.

The newly announced project will shed light on what is required in everyday life for families most challenged by these conditions and develop understandings of how to deliver ECEC services accordingly.

Findings from the project will support universal ECEC access by translating the findings about contemporary disadvantage into policy and practice.

This project also has a strong Indigenous component that will contribute to researcher training and knowledge about effective ECEC practice for Indigenous children and their families.

Dr Jennifer Skattebol, SPRC Senior Research Fellow, will lead the project alongside SPRC colleagues Dr Megan Blaxland and Dr BJ Newton

Collaborators on the project include Professor Frances Press (Charles Sturt University), Associate Professor Marianne Fenech (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Christine Woodrow (Western Sydney University), Dr Sandra Cheeseman (Creche and Kindergarten Association) and Mrs Penelope Markham (Goodstart Early Learning).

Partner organisations in the project include KU Children's Services, Goodstart Early Learning, The Creche and Kindergarten Association, Family Day Care Australia and Early Childhood Australia.

Joanna Holcombe