A group of experts and parents have come together to ensure childcare is on the agenda for all political parties at the upcoming federal election.
The Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign is a collaborative effort of early childhood peak, service, research and welfare organisations and parents and is calling for access to quality play-based early learning for Australian children at least two days a week.
An Early Childhood Survey has been sent to the registered candidates of all the major parties and key independents, pushing them to prioritise early learning childcare leading up to the Federal election.
Research shows that children who attended quality early learning programs from three years of age had higher grades in school, were better able to manage their behaviour and had lower levels of hyperactivity than children who attended less or no early learning.
‘Every child has the right to quality early learning to give them the best start in life, but we’re finding too many children are being cut back or prevented from accessing subsidised early learning because of the strict new conditions of the Child Care Subsidy,’ said The Parenthood CEO Alys Gagnon.
‘We haven’t heard any party commit to making the necessary amendments to address these barriers.’
The most significant reform needed in the areas is increasing high quality early education for three-year-old children, irrespective of their parents’ level of participation in the workforce.
‘Currently less than 60 percent of Australian three year olds attend a preschool program, putting Australia way behind other developed countries like New Zealand, the UK and many European nations which have 90 to 100 percent of three year olds in preschool,’ said Chris Legg.
It’s time for Australia to increase our investment in early learning. It matters for our children and it matters for our community into the future.
— Everyone Benefits (@earlyedbenefits) February 21, 2019
The alliance of experts and parents is encouraging the Coalition to match the policy announcements by the ALP and the Greens to commit to federal funding of early learning, in order to increase participation for all children in the two years prior to primary school.
Reducing the social impacts of disadvantage is also an essential part of the campaign.
“We want to see polices and funding that commits to the provision of quality education for all children, including those in rural and remote locations and Aboriginal communities” said CCSA CEO Meg Mendham.
“The most effective way to support children to reach their potential is to ensure they receive the best support in the first five years, it also makes the most economic sense in reduced future education and welfare costs.”