Kids in Communities Study: What is it about your community that makes a difference to early childhood development (ECD)?

  • Project dates: 2017 (ongoing)

RMIT University through an ARC Linkage Partnership with The University of Melbourne (lead institution), the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and other universities, government and non-government organisations in Australia and Canada, aims to explore community-level factors influencing early childhood development (ECD). Further funding from the Australian Government Department of Social Services enabled the development of Foundational Community Factors, the factors that lay the foundations of a good community for young children.

The Kids in Communities Study (KiCS) collaboration is working to understand how different factors in our communities—physical, social, socio-economic factors, service, and governance factors – influence the way that children develop. The early years are a time when one’s environment can influence how the brain develops. Children with stimulating and positive environments early in life have optimal foundations for their ongoing physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.

Communities or neighbourhoods are important environments where children grow and develop. KiCS’ collected information from 25 communities (suburbs) in areas of advantage and disadvantage across five Australian states and territories (VIC, QLD, NSW, SA, and the ACT). The research uses an interdisciplinary mixed methods approach, including the use of qualitative data and spatial methods to investigate community factors that influence ECD. In an environment of competing social and policy interests, it is important to understand where and how best to intervene to guide investments that promote ECD, with neighbourhood design offering untapped potential as a modifiable platform for impact.


  • Set of draft foundational community factors for ECD
  • Draft manual of methodologies
  • Peer reviewed publications and presentations

Key People

Lead researchers

Dr Karen Villanueva

Dr Karen Villanueva

Research Fellow

Factors that lay the foundations of a good community for young children

Professor Sharon Goldfeld

Lead Investigator of KiCS

View profile
Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti

Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti

Director of Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform & Convener of the Healthy Liveable Cities Group

Associate Professor Hannah Badland

Associate Professor Hannah Badland

Deputy Director of the Centre for Urban Research

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Learning more about the relationship between health and the places people live, work, learn and play can better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow.

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