Background

Children are the future backbone and the hope of a country. Their physical and mental health affects a nation’s economy and progress in society. In the recent two decades, many advanced countries in Europe and America have thrown in a lot of manpower and funds to design large longitudinal databases of child development. Experts and scholars from various fields work together on these projects with the aim of exploring child development, child care environment, and the relationships between them. Results derived from these databases serve as valuable information sources for national policy making. Until now, some large-scale databases of child development have been created, such as the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the U.S., the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) in Canada, and Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) supported by the Australian government. Each of the above projects began with a representative sample of children, and participants were followed from infancy in order to examine a broad range research questions in relation to topics such as children’s health, language, cognition, social development, and experiences in child care. These studies provide important information for researchers, policy makers, and professionals in the disciplines of education, medicine, social work to help them understand the development of young children, children’s families and child care experiences, and the longitudinal impacts that child care experiences have on children. The data of these studies is of great importance because it can be used not only to inform policies related to health, welfare, family, and child care, but also to identify opportunities for early intervention and prevention strategies.

In Taiwan, although there is no lack of local studies of child development and childhood education, long-term follow-up studies of child development are still quite rare. Since most of the existing local studies are small-scaled -- they are conducted by individual researchers and often have a small sample from a single district, it is difficult to gain a comprehensive picture of how children in Taiwan develop in childhood. Due to small sample sizes, limited inferences can be made, fewer applications in education can be found, and the study results cannot fully inform policy makers. Also, data collected by a single study is hard to form connections with data gathered by other studies, which means data cannot easily be accumulated or circulated. Thus, creating a database is a good solution to this problem. An online database that collects complete long-term data of child development from a large, representative sample in Taiwan is useful for people who need the data, like scholars and government officials. Maximum benefits can be achieved if data is sustainably stored in the database and is shared among many users.

Sponsored by the National Science and Technology Council, the KIT project (Kids in Taiwan: National Longitudinal Study of Child Development and Care) is conducted in partnership between the Center for Educational Research and Innovation of NTNU, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies of NTNU, and a consortium of researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including child development, early childhood education, family education, educational psychology, early intervention, clinical medicine, and research survey. Also, some local senior scholars in related fields are invited to be the project consultants.