Is Quality Good Enough for Out-of-Home Care Children? Early Childhood Education and Care Experiences of Australian Children in Out-of-Home Care at Age 3 to 5 Years
High quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) from age 3 may promote early learning, reduce vulnerability and narrow achievement gaps between children in care and their peers. Children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds have lower rates of participation in a formal early childhood program than children generally. However, little is known about the rate of ECEC attendance among children in out-of-home care (OHC); the type, amount and quality of service they experience as well as the factors that may create a barrier to access. This chapter reviews the available research on these issues and reports findings on the ECEC experiences of N = 60 children aged 3 to 5 years from the Australian Early Childhood in Foster and Kinship Care study.
Results showed that study children were just as likely as other children to be attending ECEC, and the amount of ECEC study children were using was similar as well. Yet, compared to children generally, a slightly lower proportion of study children spent time in a preschool program, and a smaller proportion of study children’s main ECEC service was meeting the National Quality Standard. While ECEC subsidies and cross-sector collaborations appear to support strong ECEC participation, more research is needed to determine whether universal ECEC meets the unique needs of children in OHC.
KeywordsEarly childhood education Out-of-home care Disadvantage Australia
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