The electorate of Lingiari has the highest rate of children with developmental vulnerability at the start of school than anywhere else in the country, according to new research.
A report, released on Wednesday by Victoria University's Mitchell Institute, shows that an alarming 46.1 per cent of kids in Lingiari, which encompasses Katherine, start school developmentally vulnerable.
According to author and education policy lead at the institute, Dr Peter Hurley, developmental vulnerabilities result in kids having difficulty starting school and facing disadvantage throughout their education.
He said there was a correlation between a shortage in childcare in an area and the level of developmental vulnerability among kids.
"While evidence shows early learning can overcome disadvantage and assist children to "catch up" before starting school, this analysis shows a trend towards lower availability of childcare in the electorates with the highest rates of child development vulnerability," Dr Hurley said.
"This is a really big problem because there is a lot of evidence that shows children who start school behind, stay behind."
According to the report, Lingiari is the fifth worst electorate in the country when it comes to childcare availability, with an average of 4.3 children for every childcare space.
Additionally, 76.2 per cent of kids in the electorate are in what is deemed to be a "childcare desert", which is where three or more children are vying for a childcare space.
Dr Hurley said this problem has made childcare a clear election issue.
"Educators are the backbone of the early childhood system, but low pay has led to a high number leaving their job and the sector is struggling with workforce shortages," Dr Hurley said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?: Send letters to the editor or story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.