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$300m injection for early childhood learning

The federal government is investing $300 million to boost early childhood education.

The new Early Years Quality Fund will help support the implementation of the National Quality Framework.

Grants from the $300m EYQF will help services offset the cost of employing a higher qualified workforce and ensure quality education and care is being delivered while maintaining affordability for parents.

A new Pay Equity Unit will also be established in the Fair Work Commission, with an initial focus on the early childhood education and care sector.

The NQF requires early childhood education services to employ staff with higher education qualifications by 2014.

To qualify for the grants, child care benefit approved long day care providers must be able to demonstrate a commitment to quality outcomes for children, including how their services will meet NQF requirements.

Eligible services will receive grants to promote productivity and increase wages for employees with a certificate III by $3 per hour from July 1. There will also be proportional increases for staff across the existing classification scale.

“This wage increase for early childhood educators will assist in raising the professional status for our hardworking and dedicated early childhood educators,” Early Childhood minister, Peter Garrett, said.

Early learning providers will be required to curb fee increases to reflect only the rises in operational costs. This will ensure affordability as well as transparency on fees for families.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, said the new Pay Equity Unity within the Fair Work Commission will do research and collect data on pay.

Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care, Kate Ellis, said: “We have come a long way since staff were considered babysitters and they should be recognised as the qualified professionals they are.”

An advisory board consisting of both employee and employer representatives will be formed to oversee the development and implementation of the EYQF.



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