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On a mission: Universal model urged for early childhood education

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Mission Australia has released an election manifesto asking Australia’s political leaders to commit to a universal model for early childhood education and care as well as give priority to less privileged families.

In the manifesto, Mission Australia reaffirmed that investing early to ensure that all children get the best possible start in life regardless of their socio-economic or geographic factors has advantages that will be multiplied when they transition successfully to adulthood and could result in savings and welfare expenditures.

There are also actions that should be required to ensure improved outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable children. These include more investment in early intervention strategies and effective prevention customised to fit local communities as well as making policy changes to treat early childhood education and care (ECEC) as a vital component of the education system. They also want the Productivity Commission to undertake a review of existing funding models to determine the most effective and affordable model of childcare.

The manifesto also suggests that the government should launch a universal model of ECEC that begins earlier for disadvantaged and vulnerable children rather than focusing on more advantaged children. The model suggested will provide service for up to three years before school and will run for 10-15 hours per week. It should also be initially provided as a trial in the 10 most disadvantaged communities identified in the 2011 Budget and supported with focused and intensive sustaining services.

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