ECA hits back at AFR opinion piece, calls for ‘more sophisticated conversation’ on ECEC
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has spoken out against recent claims, made by Australian Financial Review journalist Aaron Patrick, that the commercial childcare industry (sic.) is charging inflated prices which are hurting families because of rules that “force centres to hire more, better-educated staff” and “ratio rules that make caring for babies and infants twice as expensive as looking after three-to-five-year-olds”.
In his piece, Mr Patrick argues that reform to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector would act as a lever to female workforce participation, however ECA CEO Samantha Page has described the commentary as both “ill-informed” and misleading.
The ECEC sector, Ms Page contends, “is demanding and challenging, requiring well-trained professionals to ensure safe and nurturing environments for children. To consider an unskilled workforce as a solution not only neglects the importance of providing rich learning experiences but also risks exacerbating workforce issues, including turnover and stress levels.”
Contrary to Mr Patrick’s assertion, she continues, “investing in skilled educators is not an inflated cost but a vital commitment to quality services and reasonable workloads.”
“Children’s brains develop rapidly in the first five years of life, necessitating highly skilled educators to guide and foster this learning through exploration, inquiry, and problem-solving.”
Ms Page’s response addresses the limitations of the article and calls for a more sophisticated conversation in relation to what Australia, as a nation, wants for children. The ECEC sector, she argues, should be seen as critical social infrastructure delivered by education professionals, and the focus should be on genuine solutions for affordability and access.
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