Early Childhood Australia (ECA), the national children’s peak body, has urged the Productivity Commission to put the interests of children first during its Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning.
In a comprehensive submission to the Inquiry, ECA outlines a number of reforms that should be introduced to ensure a high-quality early childhood education sector continues to develop within Australia.
The major points within ECA’s submission are as follows:
- continued support for the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the reforms within the program
- a proposal to merge the Child Care Rebate and the Child Care Benefit into one streamlined subsidy paid directly to early childhood education and care services. The revised subsidy would cover up to 90 per cent of fees for low income earners, tapering down to 50 per cent for families earning over $150 000 per year
- the introduction of new, ambitious targets to increase participation rates in early childhood education. Similar to targets adopted in Europe, the targets would see 90 per cent of children aged three to five participating in up to 30 hours a week of early learning
- the development of an incentive program to attract more early childhood teachers in rural, regional and remote areas. The program would be similar to the current model for attracting qualified doctors to these areas
- to improve the number of outside school hours care facilities available to families, a new incentives program should be put in place to encourage schools to make adequate space available.
‘This is a crucial time for our sector, as we look towards ensuring early childhood education in Australia can cater for the growing number of children accessing the system’, said ECA CEO Samantha Page.
‘The goal should always be to ensure that we are providing the best possible outcomes for children—that’s why we continue to support the NQF and the reforms that enhance service delivery in Australia.’
‘However, we recognise the affordability and accessibility issues that are facing families across the nation, and that’s why we have spent time developing proposals to address the concerns of families looking to send their children to early learning.’
‘In developing this submission, ECA worked hard to engage the diversity of stakeholders across the early childhood education and care sector, circulating information about the inquiry and a discussion paper responding to the terms of reference. We look forward to further engagement and facilitating dialogue across the sector as the Inquiry goes forward.’
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