Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a children's headline indicator
Developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the Children’s Headline Indicators are a set of measures designed to focus policy and to help guide and evaluate policy development on issues central to children’s health, development and wellbeing in 19 priority areas. The Indicators were endorsed by health, community and disability services ministers and education systems officials in 2006. Headline Indicators were defined for 16 of these priority areas however, more work was required on the remaining three: family social network, social and emotional wellbeing and shelter. This work was needed to conceptualise and identify the most important aspects of these areas for children’s health, development and [[wellbeing.
This report published in April, 2012 outlines the process of developing a Headline Indicator for the social and emotional well-being priority area.
Identifying and defining a Headline Indicator
The process of developing a Headline Indicator for social and emotional wellbeing involved:
•conceptualising social and emotional well-being: definition of its scope, theoretical basis, and main elements •reviewing the literature on social and emotional well-being and children’s outcomes •identifying possible indicators by reviewing indicator frameworks and reports •consulting key experts and stakeholders.
Based on this research and consultation, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) population measure was strongly supported as the most appropriate tool for measuring social and emotional wellbeing in children. This instrument has been extensively validated, and is used widely, both internationally and in Australia. Modified versions have also been developed for Indigenous children. It is recommended that a Children’s Headline Indicator for social and emotional wellbeing, based on the SDQ, be defined as the proportion of children scoring ‘of concern’ on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
At present there is no national data source in Australia suitable for reporting on the recommended Headline Indicator for social and emotional wellbeing. The report states that work is needed to determine the most appropriate data collection method and vehicle for this Headline Indicator and recommends specific consideration be given to a large-scale national survey, that:
•uses children as the counting unit •captures demographic information •allows disaggregation by state and territory for subpopulations of children (for example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children).
Alternatively, it is proposed that the SDQ could be incorporated in a standardised manner into state/territory-based population health surveys; however, survey methods would need to be considered to ensure comparable data.
To access the complete report see here