IPART releases Interim Report on NSW ECEC sector
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has released the Interim Report on its review of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in New South Wales including draft findings about factors that drive affordability, accessibility, consumer choice and supply.
“Our review found there is scope to improve affordability, accessibility and choice for families in NSW, in particular for children with disability, additional needs or experiencing disadvantage or vulnerability,” said IPART Chair Carmel Donnelly.
The report makes several recommendations including simplifying the funding system, improving the availability of qualified workers and better supporting families and children with diverse needs.
The review also found that workforce availability and expertise are critical to the supply and accessibility of quality ECEC services, with workforce shortages a significant problem for the sector.
“We have made a draft recommendation that the NSW Government develop an early childhood education and care workforce strategy to increase availability of suitably qualified workers and support educators to deliver high quality services,” Ms Donnelly shared.
The funding system for ECEC services is complex, fragmented and potentially inefficient, and this can lead to unintended negative outcomes, she continued, calling on governments to work together to develop an integrated funding approach to ECEC which prioritises affordability and accessibility for families with greater disadvantage including those with lower incomes and families in regional or remote locations.
With more than 300,000 families in NSW accessing ECEC, improving access is critical, she continued, noting that high quality ECEC is closely linked to better long-term educational outcomes for children and increased workforce participation for parents, especially for women.
“We also suggest the NSW Government develop a digital service and data strategy to help families access early childhood education and care services. Better digital tools and data could help families find, choose and use services, and help service providers make better decisions about locating, expanding and supporting services.”
Ms Donnelly encouraged community feedback on the draft recommendations, including feedback from families, as well as providers and workers in the sector.
“This consultation will help us refine our draft findings and recommendations to the NSW Government to enable better outcomes for families and children,” she added.
“We welcome submissions and invite people to complete a short survey online. We will also hold an online public hearing on 30 October 2023.”
IPART will make final recommendations in December this year. For more information, to take part in the survey, make a submission or register for the online public hearing, visit the IPART website at www.ipart.nsw.gov.au
Responses to the Interim Report can be made until 17 November 2023.
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