CPD creates briefing paper Starting Now to offer roadmap for ECEC reform
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CPD creates briefing paper Starting Now to offer roadmap for ECEC reform

by Freya Lucas

August 01, 2022

The Centre for Policy Development (CPD) has created Starting Now, a roadmap for State and Commonwealth cooperation to secure the benefits of early childhood reform. 

 

Starting Now recommends a number of actions to ensure that high-quality, accessible and affordable early childhood education and care (ECEC) is implemented, suggesting a number of actions to ensure the sector can attract and retain the skilled workforce needed to prosper. 

 

The recommendations build on CPD’s influential 2021 report Starting Better, calling for the Australian Government to pursue coordinated action to harness the momentum of separate state based investments in Universal access to quality ECEC. 

 

Starting Now charts the coordinated system design required to ensure that commitments at a State and Federal level deliver a triple dividend of improving outcomes for children, supporting workforce participation and boosting the economy, recommending “swift and coordinated action” in three key areas: 

 

  • Action to give parents the confidence to balance work and home by ensuring education and care is available and affordable. This includes: accelerated changes to subsidy arrangements; the introduction of an ACCC mandate to ensure additional funding flows through to families and workers; and, smarter spending coordination between governments to address child care deserts. 

 

  • Action on rewarding, secure early childhood careers so children and families can work with early childhood professionals they know and trust. This includes appropriate valuation of early educators’ work, making early childhood careers a priority at the national jobs and skills summit, a tripartite dialogue between unions, employers and government, investment in training  for early childhood professionals.

 

  • A national mission for a universal early childhood guarantee for young children and families. This includes a formal agreement between First Ministers to work together on a universal early childhood system, with a reform taskforce to design it; a special commissioner to lead the Productivity Commission review to support the delivery of a universal system and long-term funding agreements with reform-ready leaders; and, to commence work on the national early years strategy by bringing all critical portfolios together to improve outcomes for children and families.

 

Co-chair of CPD’s Early Childhood Development Council Leslie Loble said the time was right to make the moves, with many Governments having recognised that early childhood reform is “key to delivering economic, educational and social progress.”

 

“We must take this opportunity to harness the momentum into an enduring shared mission for which all governments are responsible, and which secures this triple dividend that is so important to our future prosperity.” 

 

This perspective was backed by CPD Deputy CEO Annabel Brown, who said that structured and coordinated action between governments was critical to capturing the benefits of a universal early childhood system. 

 

“Fragmented reforms – however well-intentioned – will not build an enduring system that Australian families can trust,” she explained. 

 

“Right now our leaders have the opportunity to convert today’s political will into a coordinated mission for generational reforms that will enrich our children’s lives, create a more equal and prosperous society, and lock in the wellbeing of generations of Australians.” 

 

Starting Now has received endorsement from Anne Hollonds, National Children’s Commissioner, Tim Reed, President of the Business Council of Australia, and Sam Mostyn, President of Chief Executive Women. 

 

Access the report here

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