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Progress on early childhood reforms being made: Ellis

NSW and Victoria are ahead of the other states when it comes to implementing national early childhood education reforms, a new report has found.

But federal child care minister Kate Ellis praised each state and territory on the steps they have taken, when she launched a snapshot of the nation’s progress in Sydney on Tuesday.

“Every state and territory signed up to these reforms and signed up to the timeline for implementing them,” she said.

“We must not delay our rollout of the new quality reforms for the childcare sector.”

The report, by Early Childhood Australia (ECA), showed all states have introduced aspects of the National Quality Framework ahead of the January 2012 deadline, such as increased staffing levels for early education services.

The Federal Government is spending $18.2 billion over four years to further reform the early childhood education sector and ensure more staff are on hand to care for young children.

“Already a number of the new standards have been adopted by states, which is great to see. Some states are even exceeding the standards,” said ECA CEO Pam Cahir.

“The report highlights that these reforms are progressing and all states and territories are on track to meet the milestones.”

The National Quality Framework was agreed to at the December 2009 COAG meeting in Brisbane.

Aspects of the plan have been introduced over several years, with formal implementation beginning in January 2012.

The reforms include one carer for every four children aged up to 24 months, one for every five children aged 25 to 35 months and one for every 11 children aged 36 months to the start of primary school.

So far, NSW has adopted the one to four and one to eleven ratios, as well as adopting the National Childcare and Services Act of 2010 aimed at making the changes law.

Victoria has also adopted the law and the one to four and one to five ratios.
All other states have adopted similar aspects of the reforms, although none have committed to having a qualified teacher on hand for services with 25 children or more.

The reforms also call for half of all staff at every day care centre or preschool to be working towards a diploma in early childhood education.

From July 2010 selected early education centres were assessed on a trial basis against the national framework.

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