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Gaps in cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes between disadvantaged children and their peers emerge early and persist. While research has mainly focused on economic disadvantage, other factors like family dysfunction, the quality of the parent-child relationship and the home learning environment may also contribute to developmental gaps in the earliest years of life.

Understanding the relative impacts of different forms of early disadvantage on child outcomes can help tailor support systems to better address each child's needs.

We used data from the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED), a longitudinal study following 5,642 children in England, to investigate the relationship between different forms of early disadvantage and children's cognitive/socio-emotional development. We also looked at the role of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in moderating the effects of disadvantage.

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