Supporting the independent education community

A call for more support for ECL during COVID-19 – Jodie Harrison MP, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning

“Dear Educators and early education and care providers,

As you will be aware, on June 8, the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced that the JobKeeper payment would be cut-off to the Early Childhood Learning sector from July 20, with free "childcare" ending on July 12.

For seven days, the NSW preschool sector was left anxiously waiting to hear whether the State Government would also end free preschool. 

Undoubtedly, many would be aware of yesterday’s announcement by the Berejiklian Government that it will continue to extend financial support to the preschool sector until  September 30, 2020. Although reassuring, there was nothing new here. This had always been their stated position: additional support for the Early Childhood Learning sector will end in September.

Today in Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition Jodi McKay urged the Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to rethink his position in order to extend financial support to the Early Childhood Learning sector until at least the end of 2020. 

Early data suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women through a greater reduction in hours worked than men. We know that access to affordable Early Childhood Learning is key to women's participation in the work force. 

Getting women back to work is about breaking down the barriers to employment. Improving access to Early Childhood Learning is one of the greatest levers we have to help women get back to work. 

There are many preschools already struggling, even with the current additional support. It is import the viability of the sector continues to to be supported. 

The Labor opposition will continue to push for an extension of financial support by the NSW Government to the Early Childhood Learning sector. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the opportunity to meet with early childhood educators. What has become apparent, to many who didn’t already know, is this pandemic has lifted the lid on the complexity of the way the Early Childhood Learning sector is funded.  COVID-19 has presented opportunities. We can either plug the holes in the current system for a short period of time and keep on going or we can see this as an opportunity for reform. 

It is important to recognise that there is currently an opportunity for Premier Berejiklian, as a member of National Cabinet, to advocate for and work towards reform of early childhood education and care with her Federal, State and Territory colleagues.  This should be a priority for the Premier, although it seems that so far it hasn’t been.

As Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning, I know that there is much to be done before every child across the state has affordable access to quality learning in the early years of life. We know the benefits.

As always, I am interested in hearing from you - the educators who have continued to front up through great uncertainty to deliver quality learning experiences to our children. For your effort during the pandemic, I can't thank you enough. 

Please do not hesitate to make contact with my office to offer your ideas and suggestions about how we can create meaningful reform across the NSW Early Childhood Learning sector.”