The Front Project
Two major pieces of work have recently been released by The Front Project as part of a renewed focus on supporting the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector through COVID-19.
The Front Project launched a survey of early childhood teachers (ECTs) and educators to make sure their voices are at the forefront of work to achieve a better system for ECEC after COVID-19. The survey asks what ECTs and educators see as the strengths of the sector, as well as where they would like to have more support or see improvement.
In its first week the survey has already received over 1400 responses from ECTs and educators from all across Australia, working in many different types of ECEC settings. It is critically important we continue to collect insights from the people who directly deliver education and care to children in ECEC while we explore how to achieve improvements for the sector.
Survey results will be published in coming weeks, so there is still time to contribute if you have not yet already.
The Front Project has prepared an independent analysis of funding for ECEC in their latest paper, Realising the benefits of early childhood education and care: Funding after COVID-19. The paper assesses how to best accelerate economic recovery, while ensuring children’s wellbeing and education, as we begin to move out of COVID-19 and into the future.
The analysis balances aspiration with pragmatism, to recommend a way forward that is feasible within budget pressures and sector limitations:
Immediate term – until October 2020 (or until the Federal Budget)
Maintain free or low-cost access to ECEC for all children to provide a stable environment and enable services to respond to increases in demand as parents return to work.
From October 2020
Amend the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to be more responsive and flexible to changing demand patterns, improve access and affordability and prioritise support for vulnerable children. The Federal and State Governments should also work towards universal, teacher-led preschool in the two years before school.
Continue improvements to affordability and include two years of universal preschool. Integrate with community support services for families.
This recommendation was reached by keeping outcomes for children at the core of the analysis. The evidence has shown that was is needed is a sector that is prepared with enough high quality teachers and educators, resources and infrastructure to deliver the outcomes we want to see for children. It is important to ensure that we make the most of opportunities that ECEC provides to children, families and employers as we move out of COVID-19, while building the foundations for a stronger future that will deliver a double dividend to children and Australia.
The recommendation is grounded in the evidence on what makes a difference for children, and is informed by rigorous and frequent consultation with people who connect with the many different parts of the ECEC system; including representatives from government, business, philanthropy, peak bodies, academia and the ECEC sector.
The paper has been shared with the National Cabinet, Treasurer, Finance Minister and Federal, State and Territory ministers to help inform their decisions about future funding arrangements for ECEC.