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Early Start childhood research centre launches

A $44 million early childhood teaching, research and community engagement centre has officially opened at the University of Wollongong.

The centre, called Early Start, was launched last week by the social services minister, Scott Morrison, with the federal government contributing $31 million to the project’s funding.

The University of Wollongong hopes Early Start will become an international hub for multidisciplinary research across the early learning sector, tackling issues such as cognitive development, healthy lifestyles for children, digital learning, literacy and social inclusion.

Early Start will also partner with 41 early childhood education and care centres across NSW and the ACT, to help translate Early Start’s research into practical use. Early Start also has a focus on providing quality childcare for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Research shows high-quality early education, particularly when coupled with support services and family inclusion, can dramatically turn around the cycle of underachievement educationally, socially and emotionally,” said professor Marc de Rosnay, UOW’s academic head of Early Start. “By partnering with 41 early childhood education and care centres in regional, rural and remote areas, Early Start is bridging the traditional divide between research and practice.”

Meanwhile, Early Start’s Discovery Space, a children’s museum promoting learning through play, has already had already had about 10,000 visitors since its opening on May 20. The Abbott Foundation provided $7 million for the establishment of the Discovery Space.

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