Victorian NFP ECEC sector has been “pushed to the COVID brink”: TICCSS finds
The sixth Trends in Community Children’s Services Survey (TICCSS), which seeks input from Australian not-for-profit (NfP) early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers, has found that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic “continues to devastate” the Victorian ECEC sector.
Released this week, other key survey findings showed that NFP services, who typically have higher numbers of educators or teachers than legally required, have maintained or improved on their high-quality ratings.
Julie Price, Executive Director of Community Child Care Association (CCC), the report’s project lead, said that in the face of the COVID-19 Delta outbreak, Victorian NFP services have worked hard to maintain impressive quality standards.
“TICCSS shows that the pandemic has had a really concerning impact on NFP early education and care services, which also happen to be some of the highest quality and most established services in some of our most vulnerable communities,” she said.
“For example, TICCSS shows that close to three quarters (71 per cent) of Victorian service respondents needed to waive families’ fees, compared to the national average of 54 per cent, while 58 per cent experienced withdrawn enrolments, and more than 30 per cent had higher than usual staff absences.”
The survey also showed that half of the respondents were concerned about the wellbeing of the children in their care. Less than one quarter of those surveyed believed that children would be better off in the year ahead.
“With reports that children are particularly vulnerable to the Delta variant and a lot of families choosing to keep their children at home, many services have been pushed to the wall,” Ms Price said.
“We see this especially in Victoria where many educators and teachers have only just become eligible for vaccinations, and rules around which families can access education and care have exposed staff and communities to unnecessary risk,” she added.
“It is imperative that these services are adequately supported through COVID-19 to maintain their standards, as studies show that having access to quality early education and care helps to minimise disadvantage, not just at school, but throughout a child’s life.”
To read the TICCSS findings in full, please see here.