Incentives back in the spotlight with Bliss Early Learning Competition
Childcare provider Bliss Early Learning has attracted attention this week, with the announcement of a competition for a family to win a year’s free childcare for one child at any Bliss centre in Sydney or Melbourne.
The prize, worth up to $39,000 has been announced in the wake of calls from politicians, social commentators, and prominent voices in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector to end the practice of offering inducements to boost enrolment numbers.
Entry in the competition is open to anyone in Sydney or Melbourne, including existing families using Bliss Early Learning centres, and will be drawn on 24 December 2018. The winner will be drawn at random, and the first valid entry drawn (matching centre availability) will win the prize.
Kelly Cross, Head of Marketing at Bliss Early Learning, says the prize was inspired by the company’s ethos of including everything a child needs, plus more, for free.
“We simply took that notion and decided to give away the most valuable freebie we could think of – a year’s worth of care. We are proudly Australian owned and have heard from many parents about the rising cost of living in Australia and how amazing it would be to just have one year free of something. We took that to heart and decided to to something extraordinary for one lucky winning family”
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development Amanda Rishworth has been vocal about the Labor Government’s position in relation to incentives not related to education and care, such as holidays, petrol payments, or free ipads, stating that a Shorten Labor Government, if elected, will ban childcare and early education providers from offering inducements to boost their enrolment numbers, in an attempt to protect parents from being drawn to arrangements which may not suit their needs.
Describing the use of such inducements as alarming, Ms Rishworth said that Labor does not believe such incentives are an appropriate use of taxpayer funds, and that inducements do not meet community expectations, before saying that such incentives undermine the value of quality in early learning centres.
The application of incentives, even those which are connected with the education and care of children, has drawn criticism from some in the sector, as it applies a funding subsidy to what is essentially a game of chance.
“The Commonwealth Government is projected to spend $7.9 billion on the Child Care Subsidy this year. This funding is to support families meet the costs of child care and early education – not for providers to give away in a mad scramble to increase enrolments,” Ms Rishworth said. Early Childhood Teacher and sector commentator, Liam McNicholas, has called for radical change to the practice of using market based practices in vulnerable sectors such as ECEC or Aged Care, describing the practice of incentivisation for families as symptomatic of a bigger problem.
At The Sector, we are interested in extending the conversation around this issue. Are all incentives created equal? Are incentives related to education and care, such as the prize on offer from Bliss, more appropriate than holidays and fuel vouchers? Share your thoughts below.