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Policy Brief

What will narrow inequalities in child development before school entry?

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Key messages

  • Policies should aim to ensure an even playing field for children before starting formal schooling. Early disparities in children’s skills and well-being are difficult to compensate for and have long-term implications.
  • Focusing on equity of participation in early care and education is not enough to eliminate early inequalities. The intensity and the quality of care and education also matter.
  • Early childhood policies should pay attention to the needs and aspirations of vulnerable families as defined within their context. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of responsiveness are fundamental to setting policy priorities.
  • Policies (and practices) on early childhood should empower parents to support their children outside the childcare setting. Children need the opportunity to learn, play, explore and communicate, and for that, ensuring adequate family income and housing conditions is vital.

References:

  • Cattan, S., Fitzsimons, E., Goodman, A., Phimister, A., Ploubidis, G.B. and Wertz, J. (2022). Early childhood and inequalities, IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities.
  • Volodina, A., Weinert, S., Washbrook, E.  Waldfogel, J., Jiyoon Kwon, S., Wang, Y. and Perinetti Casoni, V. (2022). Explaining gaps by parental education in children’s early language and social outcomes at age 3–4 years: evidence from harmonised data from three countries. Current Psychology https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-022-03754-z

Acknowledgement:

This Policy Brief has received funds from the Development of Inequalities in Child Educational Achievement: A Six Country Study (DICE) project, funded under the Open Research Area (ORA) Round 5 Funding Scheme. We gratefully acknowledge funding support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC Grant ES/S015191/1, United Kingdom); the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR grant ANR-18-ORAR-0001, France), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Germany, SCHN 1116/1-1; WE 1478/12-1), the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO, Netherlands, grant number 464.18.102), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Author(s)