Latest Ian Potter Foundation Grants to boost ECEC in Australia
The Ian Potter Foundation has awarded significant grants to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in its most recent round of allocations, with the University of Wollongong’s Early Start Institute, Playgroup Australia and the Centre for Policy Development all benefitting.
As previously reported by The Sector, $190,000 has been awarded to the University of Wollongong’s Early Start Institute towards developing an online platform to support families to provide learning in the home environment for children aged 0–5 years.
To be developed in collaboration with Early Childhood Australia and Playgroup Australia, Early Start @ Home will provide developmentally appropriate content that is easily accessible, low cost and adaptable to all home contexts allowing any parent (or guardian) to use the resources to engage in their children’s learning at home.
The platform will focus on play-based learning and will increase the reach of existing resources, help deliver new content and enhance the capacity of the early childhood education and playgroup sector to engage with the home learning environment.
laygroup Australia has been awarded $200,000 for a Playgroup Reset initiative, which will support the peak body for state and territory playgroup organisations to relaunch playgroups post COVID-19, restoring an important component for families in community life.
While Playgroup Australia has been supporting families with online engagement resources since early March, families are “keen to return to face to face sessions, CEO Fiona May said, outlining that the $200,000 will be used to drive two core supports to help families to re-engage with playgroups again post restrictions.
The first stream of funding, to be rolled out in coming weeks, will be governed by services themselves, with each eligible playgroup being able to self determine if their funding allocation is best used to subsidise rent, pay for extra cleaning, to arrange additional resources to minimise the number of points of contact with popular toys, or to ensure social distancing measures can be maintained.
The second stream, Ms May told The Sector, will be used to reach out to the broader community through mainstream media, promoting the value of playgroup in supporting children as a crucial first step on the learning pathway and transitioning well into more structured learning at school.
With AEDC data from 2018 showing that almost 90 per cent of playgroup families said that their child had developed more social skills at playgroup and more than 80 per cent of parents explaining that attending playgroup brought local families together and helped provide a sense of community, playgroups will play an important role in balancing out the periods of social isolation endured by Australians in 2020.
The Centre for Policy Development received $75,000 from the Foundation to to co-fund (together with the Minderoo Foundation) a study to assess how a universal access model for ECEC might be rolled out in Australia.
While many within the sector have long called for universal access to childcare in Australia, the costs associated with such a roll out have never been fully analysed, and as such, CPD proposes to undertake the modelling study to examine costs of alternative approaches, international comparisons, and lifetime costs to the system of those who miss out on ECEC.
The study is part of a broader initiative being led by the CPD to develop alternative ECEC policies, practices and governance arrangements in Australia.
All grants awarded in this round can be found in the Grants Database, with further information about the work of the Foundation available on their website, here.