Findings from the Kids in Communities Study (KiCS): A mixed methods study examining community-level influences on early childhood development

Sharon Goldfeld, Karen Villanueva, Robert Tanton, Ilan Katz, Sally Brinkman, Billie Giles-Corti, Geoffrey Woolcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


There is increasing international interest in place-based approaches to improve early childhood development (ECD) outcomes. The available data and evidence are limited and precludes well informed policy and practice change. Developing the evidence-base for community-level effects on ECD is one way to facilitate more informed and targeted community action. This paper presents overall final findings from the Kids in Communities Study (KiCS), an Australian mixed methods investigation into community-level effects on ECD in five domains of influence–physical, social, governance, service, and sociodemographic. Twenty five local communities (suburbs) across Australia were selected based on ‘diagonality type’ i.e. whether they performed better (off-diagonal positive), worse (off-diagonal negative), or ‘as expected’ (on-diagonal) on the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) relative to their socioeconomic profile. The approach was designed to determine replicable and modifiable factors that were separate to socioeconomic status. Between 2015–2017, stakeholder interviews (n = 146), parent and service provider focus groups (n = 51), and existing socio-economic and early childhood education and care administrative data were collected. Qualitative and quantitative data analyses were undertaken to understand differences between 14 paired disadvantaged local communities (i.e. on versus off-diagonal). Further analysis of qualitative data elicited important factors for all 25 local communities. From this, we developed a draft set of ‘Foundational Community Factors’ (FCFs); these are the factors that lay the foundations of a good community for young children.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256431
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9 September
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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