In this section
The Kids in Communities Study (KiCS) is working to understand how different factors in our communities—physical environment, social environment, socio-economic factors, access to services, and governance—influence the way that children develop. We know that the early childhood years have a profound and lasting impact on children’s health and developmental outcomes. We also know that there are different factors in our communities that play a major role in the healthy development of children, particularly the resources that families can access. We don’t know exactly which community factors impact child development, and how we can modify those factors to help all children to have the best start in life. The what and the how is what KiCS wants to answer.
The KiCS Final Report – Foundational Community Factors (FCFs) For Early Childhood Development – is now available.
KiCS was developed from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) findings. Formerly known as the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), the AEDC is a population level measure of early childhood development that was conducted across Australia in 2009, 2012 and 2015. The AEDC measures outcomes across five domains of early child development (physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive, and communication and general knowledge) at a small area (suburb or small town) level.
The first AEDC study in 2009 showed us that there were children who lived in areas of relative socio-economic disadvantage, but had better developmental outcomes than would have been predicted. The opposite was also true. There were children in relatively advantaged communities who did not have developmental outcomes that were as good as would be expected. This told us that good early childhood development was more complex than just how socio-economically advantaged your community is.
This finding led a group of researchers to partner with other researchers, federal and state governments, and non-government organisations to learn more about what how communities influence child development. This was the start of KiCS.
After completing a successful pilot study conducted in two local communities in Victoria in 2010, the KiCS study has expanded to 25 communities in five states and territories: VIC, NSW, QLD, SA, and ACT. The KiCS research team includes academic experts from six universities, and policymakers and child development professionals from 10 government and non-government partner organisations.
KiCS Final Report (2018)
From the ARC-funded project, the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) provided further funding to develop evidence-based draft community-level Foundational Community Factors (FCFs) for early childhood development (ECD). These are factors that lay the foundations of a good community for young children.
The KiCS report has a list of evidence-based promising (draft) FCFs for ECD, based on findings from KiCS.
Short reports containing specific information and findings for each community involved in KiCS have been distributed to stakeholders and participants.
Example of community profile report (2018)
Final report of the KiCS pilot study (2010)
The draft community manual outlines the ‘how-to’- of collecting the Foundational Community Factors (FCFs).
It provides suggestions on measures and methods to collect a subset of the FCFs locally. We are interested in learning more about whether communities can use this manual for place-based efforts.
Communities seeking to improve the health and development of local children can collect local data on FCFs to better understand what may potentially make a difference to children’s development in their community. This manual is designed for local community organisations wanting to measure
local community-level factors for early childhood:
The FCFs are based on evidence from KiCS, which means that critical points of intervention for creating better environments for children’s health and wellbeing are informed by research. This means the FCFs are based on evidence from communities themselves, and are specific and measurable at the local level.
Use this manual to:
For community-level FCFs to be implemented and monitored over time, it is vital to understand how communities can best measure the FCFs locally. Testing the measurement of this manual is crucial to identify methods that do and do not work in the local context. Working with communities to
design the best approach to local implementation of these FCFs is of high importance if the manual is to be sustainable long-term.
If you’re interested in learning more and/or testing the manual in your community, please contact the KiCS team:
Ethics approval was granted by the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) #30016.
Other collaborating organisations:
The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.