Child Participation and Family Engagement with Early Childhood Education and Care Services in Disadvantaged Australian Communities

Rebekah Grace*, Jennifer Bowes, Emma Elcombe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    To support national policy initiatives in early childhood education and to determine reasons for low enrolment in services from families in disadvantaged areas, the authors investigated the views and practices of 101 families from disadvantaged communities. Families with a child aged 3-5 years were recruited from urban, rural and remote areas of NSW, Australia. Researchers interviewed primary carers in their home or other preferred location to explore barriers and facilitators to participate in early childhood education and care services. In addition to asking parents directly about barriers and facilitators, the interview included a questionnaire and investigated family engagement in and response to services using questions guided by Ecocultural theory. The relationships between service enrolment and family engagement with other family variables were investigated. Families emphasised quality above cost as the primary factor influencing participation in services. Child enrolment in an early childhood service and higher levels of family engagement with the service were significantly more likely when families perceived childcare to be safe, when there were high levels of family connectedness, and when families were involved in other professionals (e.g. social welfare). The findings highlight the importance of taking a community- and family-focused approach to understand more fully the barriers and facilitators to family involvement in early childhood services.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)271-298
    Number of pages28
    JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
    Volume46
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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