Changing the Trajectories of Australia's Most Vulnerable Children- The Early Years Education Program Randomised Controlled Trial

Project Details

The Early Years Education Program (EYEP) is a model of early years’ care and education targeted at the particular needs of children who are exposed to significant family stress and social disadvantage. EYEP was initiated by the Children’s Protection Society, an independent not-for-profit child welfare organisation based in the north-east of Melbourne, (the agency changed its name in 2018 to KidsFirst). The EYEP model was developed in collaboration with Associate Professor Jordan and Dr Anne Kennedy, an early years education consultant and academic with expertise working with children and families living in disadvantaged communities.

The Children randomised to attend EYEP are offered three years of care and education (50 weeks per year, five hours per day each week). The aims of EYEP are to; 1) provide a rich learning environment, 2) repair the negative impacts on brain development and emotional and behavioural regulation from living with high levels of family stress and social disadvantage, 3) equip children to participate and learn in universal settings. Key features of EYEP are high staff/child ratios, qualified and experienced staff, an infant mental health consultant in the team and a rigorously developed curriculum and relationship-based pedagogy. EYEP deliberately addresses the consequences of toxic stress on children’s brain development by using relational pedagogy, informed by attachment theory and infant mental health concepts including knowledge about the impact of trauma on infants and toddlers, as the conceptual framework underpinning the model of education and care.

The over-arching goal of EYEP is to provide an educational experience for children living with significant family stress and social disadvantage that will enable them to begin formal schooling at Prep Grade (Foundation year) developmentally equivalent to their peers with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for ongoing successful learning.

Data on children’s developmental and learning outcomes is being collected at 1,2 and 3 year intervals after randomization and 6 months after school entry.


Professor Jeff Borland, Economics Department, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Brigid Jordan, Department of Paediatrics

Dr Yi-Ping Tseng, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

Ms Nichola Coombs

Dr Jane Sheehan


This project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the University of Melbourne and Children’s Protection Society. (CPS changed its name in 2018 to KidsFirst).

Research Publications

Tseng YP, Jordan B, Borland J, Coombs N, Cotter K, Hill A and Kennedy A, 'The first twelve months in the Early Years Education Program: An initial assessment of the impact on children and their primary caregivers', Changing the Trajectories of Australia's Most Vulnerable Children, Report No. 2 (March 2018).

Tseng Y, Jordan B, Borland J, Clancy T, Coombs N, Cotter K, Hill A and Kennedy A, 'Participants in the Trial of the Early Years Education Program’ , Changing the Trajectories of Australia’s Most Vulnerable Children, Report  No. 1 (June 2017).

Jordan B, Tseng YP, Coombs N, Kennedy A, Borland J. Improving lifetime trajectories for vulnerable young children and families living with significant stress and social disadvantage: the early years education program randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health 2014; 14(965), 1-10.

Borland, J., Coombs, N., Cotter, K., Clancy, T., Hill, A., Jordan, B., Kennedy, A., & Tseng YP. (2016) Changing the Trajectory of Children's Lives: Research and Advocacy. In Colette Tayler and Jane Page (eds.) Learning and Teaching in the Early Years. Cambridge University Press.

Research Group

Paediatric social work research group

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre


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