26 MarGovernments need to work together to avert the collapse of the early childhood education and care sector
The coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic has proved a massive disruptor to Australia’s early childhood education and care sector, with increasing service closures, reduced attendance and immediate financial insolvency risks for many service providers. These trends are hugely concerning to an already under-valued early childhood workforce that is facing the prospect of unemployment unless financial support to service providers is made available immediately.
The early childhood education and care sector continues to be overlooked in comparison to the school sector at all levels of Government.
“The outcome of this approach creates confusion for parents, degrades the incredibly valuable work performed by our teachers and educators and leaves service providers uncertain about their futures” says ELAA CEO, David Worland.
“Financial support measures at a Federal and State level help but do not go far enough. Across the country, parents are withdrawing their younger children from kindergarten and long day care at an escalating rate as older siblings stay home from school, early years teachers become increasingly unavailable for work, and parent anxiety about community transmission grows. This is resulting in a drastic revenue shortfall to early childhood services. Significant investment by Governments is required to ensure the immediate financial viability of services and the security of employment of tens of thousands of early years teachers and educators.”
The Prime Minister recently stated that “early education is critical to children’s future educational outcomes and we cannot afford to lose these vital services or the educators and teachers that deliver them.” Despite this recognition of the importance of early childhood education and care, it will be impossible, even in the short term, to provide the necessary learning and care to the children of those parents required to keep reporting for work without a comprehensive package of supports from Federal and State governments.
Longer term, once social distancing measures are relaxed, families and the Australian economy will be relying on early childhood education and care services to remain viable so they can be up and running for when families return to work. “For this to be possible governments need to plan and act now,” said Mr Worland.
Also at risk if the sector collapses is Victoria’s ambitious early childhood education and care reform agenda including universal access to kindergarten for three-year-olds.
“Right now, what our sector needs from all levels of Government in response to the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic is a comprehensive funding and support package that protects both children
and the early childhood workforce from unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus, as well as enabling the sector to return to normal as quickly as possible once the pandemic is over.”
For more information or to arrange an interview with ELAA CEO, David Worland, contact James Gardener 0413 483 182.
ELAA is the national peak body for not-for-profit providers of early childhood education and care. Our vision is Excellence in Early Learning for Every Child. www.elaa.org.au