The Front Project CEO calls for ‘meaningful and lasting’ ECEC change
Descriptions of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector as broken, eroded and failing families are “overly simplistic”, The Front Project CEO Jane Hunt has said, commenting on what she termed “a stark shift in sentiment” in the way the nuanced work of the sector is perceived.
“In 2020 we saw a surge of praise for the sector as more parents began working from home, businesses wrestled with new ways of operating and policymakers right up to our Prime Minister experienced first-hand the evidence that they had previously only read about – that ECEC underpins the success and wellbeing of children, families and our entire economy,” Ms Hunt said.
While acknowledging that the present system is imperfect, and that there are “many things that Government can do to ensure that ECEC provides more efficient and higher quality support to more families,” Ms Hunt said the present discourse fails to acknowledge the “long and sophisticated history” that has seen Australia’s ECEC system evolve to become “the robust, resilient and, frankly, impressive system that we have today.”
“We have listed what we believe are the best opportunities we have right now to build on our early learning system in The Front Project’s Pre-Budget Submission,” she continued, outlining opportunities such as building on the Child Care Subsidy, investigating a system of price controls and guaranteeing that benefits stay with families.
Further opportunities include delivering better outcomes for children by lifting quality, ensuring ongoing affordability and funding at least two years early education before school.
“We understand that meaningful and lasting change can be complicated and challenging; and requires support from all sides of politics to be effective.”
That being said, Ms Hunt was clear that her perception is that the ECEC sector is highly adaptive and responsive, having proven “time and time again that it can and will bend and flex to deliver what families need most at any given time.”
“We must rise to this challenge because continuing to improve ECEC will only grow in importance as we move through the next waves of crisis recovery,” she said in closing.