ECEC sector responds favourably to PwC report confirming the value of the early years
The early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector has responded favourably to the issuance of a new report from PwC yesterday, which highlighted the economic and societal benefits gained from sound and continuing investment in the early years.
The Australian first study, A Smart Investment for a Smarter Australia outlined that investing in ECEC demonstrates the potential for more children and families to live healthier, happier and more productive lives, boosts productivity and increases workforce participation.
The study was commissioned by The Front Project, a business advocacy group supporting investment in the early years. Member of The Front Project, and ECMS CEO, Kim Bertino, attended the launch of the report in Melbourne yesterday, and remarked on its significance, saying “these crucial findings contribute to an evidence base that allows us to continue our work towards a financially sustainable and scalable organisation, and increase the impact we have on positive outcomes for children before they start school.”
Goodstart Early Learning advocacy manager John Cherry said the report adds to the compelling case for Governments to continue to fund access for all Australian children to attend preschool in the years before school.
“We already knew that children who attended preschool were better prepared to start school and achieved 20-30 points higher in literacy and numeracy tests in Year 3,” Mr Cherry said.
“Now we know that investing in preschool will also boost the economy, with $4.7 billion of future benefits for each $2.3 billion of annual provision of preschool.”
The report found that the states are the largest funders of preschool providing $1 billion a year, while the Commonwealth provides $823m a year. Parent fees make up the rest of the cost – $501m. Globally, Australia has the second highest parent contribution to preschool costs – only in Japan are parents expected to contribute more.
The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) commended The Front Project on the landmark study, with President Paul Mondo saying “Whilst the benefits of high quality, affordable early childhood education to Australia’s young children are increasingly being recognised, both by government and the general community, this research indicates that these benefits extend way beyond the early years of a child’s life, increasing workforce participation and boosting productivity while addressing developmental vulnerability in children.”
“In an early learning environment, children develop a love of learning before they commence school and are put on a path to better educational achievement and therefore higher earnings throughout their lives.” he added, noting that the ACA had been “actively advocating that two years of a kindergarten/preschool program before school provides children with a stronger start in life, with play-based experiential learning being the key to the best learning outcomes for young children.”
The Australian Education Union (AEU) welcomed the support offered by the report, noting that it added further weight to the call for two years of funded early childhood education in the years before school, and for that funding to have surety.
AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe said continued failure to provide funding for three year old children would “cost Australia dearly” in years to come.
“This report confirms what everyone in the early childhood sector already knows – investing in two years of preschool for our children should be a priority for the Morrison Government,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“Guaranteed funding for our early learning sector is a critically important investment in the future of our children.” Ms Haythorpe added, saying it was “time for the Morrison Government to make this commitment for our children and families.”
ECMS described the report as “the beginning of a journey”, saying they looked forward to working with The Front Project, and following the outcomes of the study to improve quality and care, and create positive change in Australia’s ECEC sector.
For more information, or to read the report, please visit The Front Project.
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