Early childhood education and care (ECEC) in promoting educational attainment including social development of children from disadvantaged backgrounds
Findings from a European literature review and two case studies. Final report - Study
This study has been carried out for the Directorate General Education and Culture in response to a request for services under the Framework Service Contract No EAC/02/2010 with the overall objective of supporting the work of the Commission and Member States, within the Education and Training work programme, in the field of ECEC and social inclusion. For the purposes of the study it was decided to focus on the following groups of vulnerable and disadvantaged children: children living in poverty or at risk of poverty; children of migrant or refugee families; Roma children and children at risk of... educational failure. The study is informed by two literature reviews based on existing studies from EU Member States. These reviews address barriers to, and best practice in engaging disadvantaged children and families in ECEC services and on children’s acquisition of cognitive and noncognitive (including social skills) through participation in ECEC services and their importance to social development, successful transition to school and social inclusion. In addition, two case studies were commissioned: the first on the government initiatives for young children in the UK (1998 - 2010), and the second from the International Step by Step Associations and Open Society Foundations focusing on teacher education and pedagogy. The study first sets the scene by providing current data on child poverty in Europe and on the access rates of disadvantaged children to high quality early childhood services. According to the Eurostat Newsrelease (http://ec.europa.eu/Eurostat) of 8 February 2012, 23.4% (115 million people) of the population of EU-27 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. For the moment in Europe, the overall poverty trend is negative: the numbers of unemployed and poor have increased significantly since 2008. Children particularly exposed to the risk of poverty include those from large, low-income families; households with a migrant background; Roma children; street children and those who are exposed to a series of social risks such as homelessness, violence and trafficking. In all countries except Denmark, Finland, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden, children are at greater risk of poverty or social exclusion than adult populations (http://ec.europa.eu/Eurostat). Children born into severe poverty are disproportionately exposed to factors that impede their psycho-motor development, socio-emotional growth and cognitive processes. When linked with deprived or neglectful family backgrounds and poorly educated parents, poverty becomes the single greatest barrier to educational achievement (Coleman, 1996; Duncan et al. 1998; Heckman, 2008; Ladd, 2011).