Starting Better report receives mass support from ECEC sector advocates
A number of major early childhood education and care (ECEC) advocacy bodies, including Early Childhood Australia and the United Workers Union have spoken out in support of a new report released today by the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) which recommends a decade of reforms across all levels of government to establish a Guarantee for Young Children and Families.
The Guarantee includes:
- Three days a week quality early education to school age
- Greater community and health support for families
- More paid parental leave shared between partners.
Specifically, the Guarantee includes universal access to a minimum three days a week of free or low-cost quality early education and care from birth to school age, including two years of preschool; up to 25 visits from maternal and child health nurses for new parents; and, more paid parental leave shared between partners to give babies more time with parents in the crucial early months of life.
Essentially, the Guarantee aims to return a “triple dividend” of a healthier, more prosperous population, a more equal workforce for women and rewarding, and secure jobs in the early childhood sector.
Representatives of both public and private sector have also lent their support to the initiative, alongside prominent academics such as Professor Tom Calma AO, Chair, Living First Language Platform Company, Co-Chair, Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation, and Chancellor, University of Canberra.
Starting Better: A Guarantee for Young Children and Families aims to provide every child and their family with tools they need to flourish through their lives via a decade of reforms across all levels of government to establish the Guarantee.
Starting Better offers the evidence and the inspiration of a promise to our children and their families, said Anne Hollonds, National Children’s Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission.
“There is no purpose more compelling than the development and wellbeing of our children and a better future for us all.”
The Guarantee will simplify and integrate a “currently confusing and expensive array of services and schemes” and put the needs of children and their families at the centre of Australia’s early childhood system.
Financially, the Guarantee would require an estimated initial annual investment of $2 billion, rising to $20 billion by 2030. It would then generate returns from higher wages, increased workforce participation, savings on health and crime, and job creation for early childhood professionals. It is projected to be cost neutral when fully implemented in 2030 and to deliver a net economic return of $15 billion annually by 2045.
The Starting Better report is the culmination of the first 12 months of work in CPD’s Early Childhood Development Initiative. It draws on the work of the Centre’s informal intergovernmental Early Childhood Development Council comprising senior officials from all jurisdictions, early childhood development experts and sector leaders.
“Early childhood is the launchpad for life,” said CPD CEO Travers McLeod.
“Right now we are not delivering for young children and their families. Too many children and families start behind and never catch up. Early education is expensive and hard to access. Parents don’t have enough time with their children in those crucial early months, and support is often hardest to access for families who need it most.”
Committing to the Guarantee for Young Children and Families would be “a transformational opportunity” for Australia, Mr McLeod said.
“Our children will flourish, families will more comfortably balance work and home, and we will create rewarding, secure careers in the early childhood sector.”
CPD Fellow and Early Childhood Development Council Co-Chair Leslie Loble described the Guarantee as “an ambitious and necessary reform program” that would underpin Australian prosperity in the 21st Century.
“The Guarantee for Young Children and Families articulated by Starting Better represents the foundations of a more prosperous, fair and flourishing Australia in the decades to come,” Ms Loble said.
“It is the kind of nation-building reform that requires a committed consensus of policymakers, industry leaders and early education experts working together to reshape a nation so it more perfectly reflects the aspirations of its citizens and the best ambitions of its leaders.”
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