Note: Average cost, evidence security and months’ impact are not reported in this pilot evaluation. Funded with the assistance of the Queensland Department of Education.
KindyLinQ, designed by Queensland Department of Education and adapted from the Western Australian KindyLink program, is a facilitated-playgroup program to encourage parents to participate in play-based learning sessions with their child. The aim of KindyLinQ is to enhance family wellbeing and encourage families at-risk of experiencing vulnerability to see (4‑year-old) kindy as an option for them and feel more able to engage with Kindergartens and other Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) providers.
The University of Queensland was commissioned by Evidence for Learning and the Queensland Department of Education to conduct an independent pilot evaluation of KindyLinQ in 2021. The evaluation was jointly funded by Evidence for Learning and the Queensland Department of Education. Evidence for Learning acknowledges the contribution of The Bryan Foundation to E4L’s early childhood education work including this evaluation project.
KindyLinQ demonstrated some promising findings for engaging families and supporting pathways to Kindergarten. Across the 40 sites the maximum number of family registrations was 490 (Term 2) with a minimum of 390 (Term 4) and an average of 10 families per site. The characteristics of the families registered indicated that the program successfully engaged families from diverse backgrounds and those with a higher risk of experiencing developmental vulnerability. On average, schools reported that three-quarters of children registered for KindyLinQ in 2021 were enrolled in Kindergarten programs in 2022.
Despite strong registration and Kindergarten pathways, the target of 50% attendance for all registered families was achieved by only 27.5% of schools and the average attendance per week per school was 42%. Attendance may have been impacted by Covid-19.
The response to KindyLinQ of key stakeholders was overwhelmingly positive with the vast majority expressing high satisfaction and strong valuing of the program. Participating families described a large range of ways in which KindyLinQ was supporting them and providing opportunities for their children through social connection and educational support. Children’s accounts also captured the importance of social connection and enjoyment of learning afforded, with analysis identifying important connections between learning at home and in KindyLinQ. School-based KindyLinQ staff (teachers, Early Years Support Co-ordinators [EYSC] and school leaders) similarly identified satisfaction with the program and its value for social connection and learning.
The data collected indicates that KindyLinQ program is highly feasible. Fidelity with the prespecified program delivery criterion was 97.5% across schools. There were opportunities for improvement in relation to staff qualifications and experience in Early Childhood Education and Care and cultural backgrounds of those in the EYSC role.
Strengths of the KindyLinQ program were the provision of a flexible, play-based program for children facilitated by a teacher; the opportunity for parents to engage in a dual-generational learning model; and the ability to create positive, trusting relationships between families and schools, and links with community organisations, including Kindergarten programs.
Key challenges were the difficulty in recruiting and sustaining attendance of target families; staff resourcing for planning and community engagement; and how to facilitate positive engagement with and between families and the broader community.
Opportunities for program improvement include providing supports and resources for increased promotion of the KindyLinQ program; increased resourcing of staff time and infrastructure; and building community networks for knowledge sharing and enhancing staff capabilities.
Subject area: Early years
The pilot evaluation assessed the response to the KindyLinQ program across a single year (2021) with some retrospective data collected from the 25 sites that commenced the program in 2020.
As per the evaluation protocol, the key focus of the evaluation was short-term outcomes relating to the functioning of the program and stakeholder response. The evaluation addressed three main research questions:
The evaluation uses a mixed-method research design over a three-phase approach, including:
- Base-line assessment (via survey)
- In-depth consultation (via interviews with staff) and participant voice (via parent survey and family story activity)
- Follow-up assessment (via survey)
Evaluation participants included:
- 120 school staff responsible for delivery of KindyLinQ (school leaders, KindyLinQ teachers and EYSCs)
- 174 parents/guardians
- 167 children
- 8 regional office staff
|Is there evidence to support the theory of change?||Yes||There is evidence from this evaluation that the KindyLinQ Pilot Program met a number of its short-term objectives, including the objectives associated with registration of the target cohort, families’ intentions to enrol their children in Kindergarten in the following year, and children, families and staff being satisfied with and valuing the program. There are opportunities to improve attendance rates.|
|Was the approach feasible?||Yes||There are clear indications from the data collected that the KindyLinQ program is highly feasible. The response of stakeholders, most notably families and children, was overwhelmingly positive. While fidelity to structural features of the program was generally high, there are opportunities to enhance KindyLinQ staff recruitment, support, resources and capabilities, including the cultural identity of staff and allocation of time for staff to connect with community.|
|Is the approach ready to be evaluated in a trial?||Yes||The KindyLinQ Pilot Program identifies significant promise in delivering positive outcomes for children and families, which could be verified in an efficacy trial involving child outcomes. There are some policy, program and people aspects of the KindyLinQ program design that could be refined before the commencement of a trial.|
The program was developed by the Queensland Department of Education and delivered by staff in schools, consisting of a KindyLinQ teacher and EYSC, with oversight from the school principal.
The program, which is conducted as a pilot, involves 40 Queensland government schools based in communities characterised by a diversity of socio-economic disadvantage and high levels of developmental vulnerability.
Evidence for Learning has provided its own plain English commentary on implications based on the pilot evaluation findings and considerations for schools and systems.
The following reports are free to access and download.
KindyLinQ Evaluation Report
KindyLinQ Evaluation Protocol
This evaluation report and supporting materials are licensed under a Creative Commons licence as outlined below. Permission may be granted for derivatives, please contact Evidence for Learning for more information.
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