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Getting it right early

A slide in the nation’s commitment to improving early childhood education would significantly damage Australia’s economy, a leading advocacy group for children has warned.

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) is urging the major parties to outline their policies on the issue ahead of the election, saying high-quality education and care services are important for the nation’s economy and overall productivity.

“We want to know where the major parties stand on quality child care, because it’s not just an issue for parents, it is a matter for the Australian community and the economy,” ECA CEO Pam Cahir said.

In the short term, quality child care supported parents in the workforce, while the long-term benefits include highly educated children who were less likely to be involved in the criminal justice and welfare systems, she said.

The ECA on Friday released a priority plan for the federal election.

Among its priorities are an improvement of the ratio of carers to children, a further investment to support staff in gaining qualifications and an improvement in the standards of registered training organisations.

It also wants to see the implementation of the National Quality Agenda put forward by the Labor government and endorsed last year by the Council of Australian Governments.

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