Reducing disadvantage in early childhood would have immediate and lasting benefits for children, families and communities. The Changing Children’s Chances project has already shown that we can almost halve problems with children's health and development if we address disadvantage.
What is CCC?
The Changing Children’s Chances (CCC) project seeks to understand the best ways to address the inequity facing Australia’s children. Eliminating inequities provides substantial benefits for children and families. It is projected that
redressing disadvantage in the early years could reduce socio-emotional problems by up to 59%, physical functioning problems by 49% and learning problems by 55% (see Figure 1). Now the CCC researchers are modelling how combining or ‘stacking’ interventions can reduce inequities in children’s health and development – particularly for those experiencing the greatest vulnerability or disadvantage.
View CCC overview
Figure 1: Projected benefits of addressing disadvantage early
Source: Goldfeld et al. Addressing disadvantage to optimise children’s development in Australia. Research snapshot #2. (2018).
A chance to thrive
A child’s experiences and environments in their early years provide the foundation for lifelong health, development and wellbeing. When children are supported from conception onwards, they have the best opportunity to thrive.
When children experience disadvantage, it limits their potential and creates a greater social and economic burden for all. Currently more than a third of Australian children experience some form of disadvantage. This is likely to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected those already experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage. This inequity is unfair and avoidable.
Phase one of the CCC project (2016-2020) described the complex circumstances in which children are born, live, learn and grow – known as social determinants (See Figure 2). These social determinants shape children’s health, development and wellbeing.
Figure 2: Framework for understanding the four key social determinants that contribute to inequities in children's health and development
Source: Goldfeld et al.,
Understanding child disadvantage from a social determinants perspective (2018c).
Phase two of the CCC project (2021-2024) extends on this foundation. This phase of the research aims to better understand policy opportunities for reducing inequities in children’s mental health, physical health and academic achievement.
There are many existing policies and services across education, health and social care portfolios that can help children and families to thrive. However, no single intervention alone is sufficient for tackling inequities.
CCC researchers are modelling how
combining or ‘stacking’ interventions can reduce inequities – particularly for those experiencing the greatest vulnerability or disadvantage.
Action can be taken at the family, community and policy level. The CCC project proposes that
simultaneous action at all three levels can best optimise children’s health and development. Our findings can help to direct limited public funds towards opportunities that will have the greatest impact. This can inform more effective and
precise policies to reduce inequities in children’s health, development and wellbeing.
Publications and resources
- Goldfeld, S., O'Connor, M., Cloney, D., Gray, S., Redmond, G., Badland, H., Williams, K., Mensah, F., Woolfenden, S., Kvalsvig, A., & Kochanoff, A. (2018). Understanding child disadvantage from a social determinants perspective. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 72(3), 223-229.
- Goldfeld, S., O'Connor, M., O'Connor, E., Chong, S., Badland, H., Woolfenden, S., Redmond, G., Williams, K., Azpitarte, F., Cloney, D., & Mensah, F. (2018). More than a snapshot in time: Pathways of disadvantage over childhood. International Journal of Epidemiology, 47(4), 1307-1316.
- Goldfeld, S., O'Connor, M., Chong, S., Gray, S., O'Connor, E., Woolfenden, S., Redmond, G., Williams, K., Mensah, F., Kvalsvig, A., & Badland, H. (2018). The impact of multidimensional disadvantage over childhood on developmental outcomes in Australia. International Journal of Epidemiology, 47(5), 1485-1496.
- Goldfeld, S., Gray, S., Azpitarte, F., Cloney, D., Mensah, F., Redmond, G., Williams, K., Woolfenden, S., & O'Connor, M. (2019). Driving precision policy responses to child health and developmental inequities. Health Equity, 3(1), 489-494.
- Goldfeld, S., Moreno-Betancur, M., Guo, S., Mensah, F., O'Connor, E., Gray, S., Chong, S., Woolfenden, S., Williams, K., Kvalsvig, A., Badland, H., Azpitarte, F., & O'Connor, M. (2021). Inequities in children's reading skills: The role of home reading and preschool attendance. Academic Pediatrics, 21(6), 1046-1054.
- Goldfeld, S., Gray, S., Pham, C., Badland, H., Woolfenden, S., Schor, E., & O'Connor, M. (2022). Leveraging research to drive more equitable reading outcomes: An update. Academic Pediatrics, 22(7), 1115-1117.
- Goldfeld, S., Moreno-Betancur, M., Gray, S., Guo, S., Downes, M., O'Connor, E., Azpitarte, F., Badland, H., Redmond, G., Williams, K., Woolfenden, S., Mensah, F., & O'Connor, M. (In Press). Addressing child mental health inequities through parental mental health and preschool attendance. Pediatrics, 151(2), e2022057101.
- Goldfeld, S., et al. (2019, 24 April-1 May). Can home reading and preschool attendance reduce inequalities in children’s literacy skills: Evidence from simulated interventions. Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, Baltimore, USA.
- Goldfeld, S., et al. (2021, 30 April-4 June). Can population-level interventions promoting parent mental health and preschool attendance reduce inequities in children’s mental health problems? Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, Virtual program.
- Goldfeld, S., et al. (2022, 21-25 April). Is it possible for a family income supplement in early childhood to reduce developmental inequities? Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, Denver, USA.
Changing Children’s Chances unites leading national and international child equity researchers and child health clinicians.
- Professor Sharon Goldfeld (Lead Investigator), The University of Melbourne
- Associate Professor Margarita Moreno- Betancur, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Meredith O’Connor, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
- Professor Katrina Williams, Monash University
- Associate Professor Susan Woolfenden, The University of New South Wales
- Professor Hannah Badland, RMIT University
- Professor Naomi Priest, The Australian National University
- Dr Francisco Azpitarte-Raposeiras, Loughborough University, UK
- Dr Sarah Tayton, Beyond Blue
- Dr Timothy Gilley, The Brotherhood of St Laurence
The CCC team also works collaboratively with our Knowledge Translation Reference Group, made up of policy experts from Australian state and federal governments and non-government organisations.
Funding and partners
The Changing Children’s Chances project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program (LP190100921). The
University of Melbourne and
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are partnering with:
The Changing Children’s Chances project capitalises on powerful national datasets. This includes the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP).
Learn more about the CCC data sources.
For further details about the CCC project, contact
Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Lead Investigator or
Dr Sarah Gray, Project Manager.