Proof in Practice
(goodbeginnings.net.au is under new management, this article previously appeared on the old website and was not written by the new site owners.)
Research has shown that early experiences and the quality of nurturing and cognitive stimulation which children receive in the first few years of life have a big impact on their development and life course. Families are the primary source of care, love and intellectual stimulation for young children. Ideally parents and carers are supported in their important tasks, by a network of extended family, friends and by a range of support services. However, many parents today are isolated and lack social networks to help them in the challenging and demanding tasks of parenting.
All program formats offered by Good Beginnings have been formally evaluated.
Good Beginnings has continued to show the very positive outcomes for families and communities identified during the pilot phase of the project. In addition, it has shown considerable capacity to adapt services to local conditions and to initiate new and varied projects in partnership with other agencies to meet community needs.
The expansion of Good Beginnings to new sites is fully justified by the findings of the evaluation.”
There is a growing body of research and evaluation data, predominantly from overseas, that highlights the cost-effectiveness of early intervention initiatives that aim to enhance family support and children’s early learning experiences. These initiatives have been shown to return benefits that exceed program costs in several domains including:
- Higher employment and skill levels in mothers
- Reduced welfare expenditure
- Improved school performance
- Reduced criminality within parents and
- Reduced notifications of child abuse and neglect and some reduction in health service (emergency room) attendance rates
Professor Graham Vimpani 2000
Neuroscientists have found that throughout the process of development, beginning even before birth, the brain is affected by environmental conditions, including the kind of nourishment, care, surroundings, and stimulation and individual receives. The impact of the environment is dramatic and specific, not merely influencing the general direction of development, but actually affecting how the intricate circuitry of the brain is wired
Families and Work Institute
There is encouraging evidence that good nutrition, nurturing and responsive care-giving in the first years of life, linked with good early child development programs, improved the outcomes for all children’s learning, behaviour, and physical and mental health throughout life.
Final Report for Government of Ontario
Margaret McCann & J Fraser Mustard, Co-Chairs