Rural needs a different model, CEO says, as ECEC challenges hamper growth
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Rural needs a different model, CEO says, as ECEC challenges hamper growth

Rural needs a different model, CEO says, as ECEC challenges hamper growth

by Freya Lucas

October 06, 2022

With thousands of families in rural areas unable to access early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, one CEO is calling for massive changes to promote equity of access for children, and employment opportunities for their families. 


“It was very challenging and extremely stressful and difficult for our family to get anywhere near the level of childcare we needed,” Jane Hosking, chief executive of the North Central Local Learning and Employment Network told the ABC.


Since sharing her struggles, she has learned that there are thousands of rural families who cannot access ECEC. 


“It shouldn’t matter where you live, you shouldn’t be forced to choose the stay-at-home option,” she said, calling for a new rural ECEC model to address the shortfall. 


A new report from Regional Development Australia (RDA) and Regional Partnerships has called for the federal government to increase subsidies in rural areas by nine per cent, to improve wages and retention of educators, and for the state government to support the co-location of ECEC services with primary schools, kindergartens and Maternal and Child Health Services. 


“We’ve done a cost benefit analysis to show that this is economically viable,” Ms Hosking said.


“We need to think differently; we need to look at what the risks are of not coming up with a future foolproof system.”


RDA found $70.1m would go back into the economy, if a $52.8 million rural childcare model were built.


Ms Hosking has been trying to address challenges surrounding ECEC access in the Loddon Mallee region for 21 years.


“We have had two steps forward, one step backward in rural areas, because we haven’t had consistency, only short-term funding,” she said.


The report has highlighted possible solutions to create viable childcare services in rural areas.


“We’ve developed a plan … We could test this model and develop it,” Ms Hosking said.


“Rural needs a different model, you can’t just retrofit something from metro and expect it’s going to work.”


This story has been based on one produced by the ABC. To access the original please see here. 

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