Canadian provides blueprint for Australian children's policy



    TORONTO, July 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Australian children are the latest
beneficiaries of the expertise of Canada's foremost authority on human
development and health. Dr. Fraser Mustard's comprehensive blueprint for early
childhood was released to the South Australia legislature last week by Premier
Mike Rann. Investing in the Early Years: Closing the Gap Between What We Know
and What We Do will guide public spending in the state over the next decade.
    The Australian paper draws on the substantive body of research captured
in the Early Years Study 2 (2007), co-authored by Dr. Mustard and published by
the Council of Early Childhood Development (CECD), an organization he founded.
It documents the link between brain development in early childhood and adult
health, behaviour and intellect. The connection makes early childhood the
ultimate period for intervention and the most productive for public
investments; markedly more effective than remedial programs for school-aged
children.
    Dr. Mustard's 39-page report details a dozen areas relating to early
childhood programs, policies and financing. His directives reflect those
promoted by the CECD including raising the standard of education and training
for staff in all disciplines affecting the development of infants and young
children; more reliable and comprehensive data collection on children from
birth through secondary school and -- the cornerstone proposal - the
integration of disparate early years' services into child development and
parenting centres linked to public schools.
    Premier Rann has already acted on Dr. Mustard's counsel, including an
expanded data collection and cross-referencing system modeled on another
import, the Early Development Instrument (EDI), pioneered by Canadian
academics to assess school-readiness in kindergarten-aged children, and a
data-linking system designed in Manitoba.
    In other areas the state has combined its education and children's
ministries to support the roll out of new early childhood schools planned to
provide comprehensive health, early learning, child care and parenting
supports from prenatal through to Grade 3. Twenty children's centres have been
announced with plans to have them available in every community within
10 years.
    Australia is also moving on a Mustard suggestion to establish an
arms-length body, similar to the Council of Early Childhood Development, to
engage cross-sectoral interest in research and policy implementation.
    Dr. Mustard presides as chair emeritus of the CECD. In addition he works
with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, UNICEF and the Aga
Khan University in Pakistan. He brought his credentials to South Australia as
part of its 'thinkers in residence' program, a singular initiative that gives
global experts unfettered access to advise government, academic, business and
community leaders on leading edge policy approaches.

    Investing in the Early Years: Closing the Gap Between What We Know and
What We Do and related papers are available at
www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/home.html. For more on Dr. Mustard's work, visit
www.councilecd.ca.




For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews contact: Kerry
McCuaig, Press Liaison, (647) 295-2808; Dr. Robin Williams, CECD chair, (905)
688-3762

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COUNCIL FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

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