Increasing Access to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Children and Families in Wales 

Increasing Access to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Children and Families in Wales 

Alexis Palá, Amanda Hill-Dixon

The Welsh Government’s Anti-racist Wales Action Plan (ARWAP) identifies the importance of early childhood play, learning and care to child development, lifelong learning and social integration. Working with its Anti-racist Wales Action Plan Governance Group for Childcare, the Welsh Government identified the issue of uptake of early years childcare among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children and families as an area requiring attention.

Since November 2023, the International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO) and the Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP) have been working in partnership to provide the Welsh Government with evidence to inform further research and policy decisions on supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children and families in Wales.

The lack of clear and recent data on gaps in access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) necessitated exploring the existing global evidence to provide better insight into the participation challenges Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children and families face. Our guiding research questions were:

  • What evidence exists about the nature and scale of the challenge in terms of participation in ECEC among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children and families?
  • What are the barriers and enablers to participating in ECEC among Black, Asian and Minority ethnic children and families?
  • What interventions have been tried to encourage participation in early years education and care among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children and families? How far are these interventions effective?
  • How have other countries approached ensuring equitable participation in early years childcare and education for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic families, as well as other minoritised or disadvantaged groups?

How we approached the evidence base was shaped by the Welsh Government’s commitment to anti-racism and working with communities. We complemented independent reviews of the evidence with deeper stakeholder engagement, including with people with lived experience, and mapping exercises to bring together global and local perspectives.

This project has four key outputs:

  • A systems map of barriers and enablers to ECEC for minority ethnic families, informed by sessions with ‘community mentors’ and Welsh Government and ARWAP representatives
  • A rapid evidence review of existing literature assessing the impact of interventions to increase access to ECEC in the UK and comparable countries conducted by Evidence for Policy and Practice Information (EPPI) Centre of UCL
  • An international policy scan with case studies of relevant policy interventions aimed at widening access to ECEC in other countries globally provided by International Network of Scientific and Government Advice (INGSA)
  • A Theory of Change workshop to discuss findings with Welsh Government officials and local stakeholders to better enable local decision-making rooted in the global evidence base. Workshop findings will be published in an insight note for the Welsh Government distilling key insights and implications.

All reports will be published in autumn 2024 to coincide with a public webinar on October 3, 2024. Please email IPPO if you’re interesting in attending the launch or receiving the final project outputs: ippo@ucl.ac.uk

 Note on terminology

  • Although the Welsh Government’s policy focus is on the importance of early childhood play, learning and care (ECPLC for shorthand), this project uses early childhood education and care (ECEC for shorthand); since ECEC is a globally accepted, recognised, and used term, we used it to search for evidence.
  • While we recognise that there is no universally accepted term to describe the diversity of groups which may experience racism in society, in this report, and associated outputs, we follow the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan in using the term Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, as well as ‘ethnic minority’ as shorthand. The report also refers to ‘families who experience disadvantage’ or ‘disadvantaged communities’. Although these groupings are not interchangeable, we widened our search to include studies targeting disadvantaged communities to locate a wider range of potentially transferable evidence.