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Abbott Govt actioning BBF child care review

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley has released the first-ever comprehensive review of the Budget Based Funded (BBF) child care programme.

The Government invests about $61 million annually to support around 340 BBF services, which deliver child care, early learning and outside school hours care where it might not otherwise be viable. About 66 percent of children attending BBFs are Indigenous.

Unlike most child care services, most BBF services are not currently required to comply with the mandatory quality standards set by the National Quality Framework (NQF).

Ley said she was “deeply concerned this risked embedding a two-tier system” and therefore announced today the Abbott Government would implement the Review’s recommendations requiring BBF services to progressively meet NQF standards.

Ley also announced the Government would provide enhanced support to help BBF services to further improve quality service delivery. 

“In recent decades, BBF services have provided important support for communities where traditional child care services haven’t been viable or available,” Ley said.

“We also recognise, and are sensitive to, the cultural significance many of these services have to families and their local communities.

“However, the way we view child care as a nation has changed significantly in recent years with the introduction of the National Quality Framework and we want to make sure no service is left behind”.

“The Abbott Government is taking action to ensure Indigenous and disadvantaged communities have access to high quality child care, regardless of where they live.

“This is about empowering BBF services and the communities they support with the tools to continue building on the quality education and care they already deliver.”

Ley said the decision to further align BBF services with the NQF came following extensive consultation in 33 locations, as well as more than 400 face-to-face interviews with local communities and Indigenous and child care stakeholders and 38 submissions.

“This also ties in with our decision to task the current Productivity Commission Inquiry – the largest review of the child care system since the 1990s – which includes terms looking at how best to provide high-quality child care that is affordable, flexible and accessible for disadvantaged, regional, rural and remote communities.”

Ley said the review made eight recommendations in total, with the Government announcing today it would implement the first two and part of the third:

  • Recommendation 1 – Introduce an outcomes based performance management framework.
  • Recommendation 2 – Develop and introduce a quality improvement strategy to enable services to progressively meet the requirements of the National Quality Standard, building on the Budget Based Funded Quality Measure.
  • Recommendation 3 – Streamline and improve efficient practice and reduce administrative burden. 

Ley said the remaining five recommendations had been referred to the broader Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning for consideration.

“We are conscious that, just like other child care services, it will take time for services to meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework, which is why this will be a progressive change,” Ley said.

Ley said the Government would also provide enhanced support to help BBF services to further improve quality service deliveryincluding:

  • Extending the Professional Support Coordinators (PSCs) Programme to deliver additional support to all BBF services to assist with the quality improvements, including the new requirement for all BBF services to develop a Quality Improvement Plan. 
  • Extending the Indigenous Professional Support Units Programme to deliver improved support to remote Indigenous-focussed BBF services to improve quality delivery, as well as improving governance, leadership and professional development of their staff.
  • Extending the Remote Indigenous Professional Development Project to deliver direct support to Indigenous early childhood educators in remote areas in Qld and WA to interpret and deliver the educational programmes.

“I’d like to thank all those who have participated in this extensive review and look forward to working with local communities and stakeholders to continue delivering high quality child care for our children.”

A copy of the BBF Programme Review – including the full list of recommendations – is available fromwww.education.gov.au

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