‘Don’t Fudge Early Childhood’ - Parliamentarians asked to put children first

A coalition of early childhood professional organisations and parents behind the Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign aims to increase understanding of the importance of the supporting early learning in the first five years to amplify children’s development.

Campaign representatives are delivering boxes of fudge to every Parliamentarian today with the playful message ‘Don’t fudge Early Childhood’ to highlight the interests of young children.

“Putting our children first by investing in the early years and creating a more affordable and equitable early childhood system will contribute enormously to Australia’s future prosperity,” said ECA CEO Samantha Page.

Early Learning Association Australia CEO, Shane Lucas said: “We are delivering a box of yummy fudge – together with messages about the importance of the early years – to every politician in both houses of Parliament to inform them that:

  • by age 3 - 80% of a child's brain growth has occurred
  • By age 4 - children from lower socio-economic and educational backgrounds will hear 19 million fewer words than children with more educated parents
  • by age 5, a child's vocabulary will predict their educational success across their lifespan.
  • Children who start school at a disadvantage are unlikely to ever catch up.

 National Convenor of Australian Community Children’s Services, Prue Warrilow said: “We want our politicians to understand that the first five years matter for children’s development and can unleash a lifetime of potential.

 “It is encouraging that the Federal Government is committed to early education subsidy reform to increase the affordability of childcare for most working families. However this must be the first step in a comprehensive plan,” said Ms Page.

  • We need a strategy and commitment to ensure that every child has access to at least two days of early learning regardless of their parents’ work or study status.
  • Participation of four year olds in early learning is now reaching international standards, due to Federal subsidies for all children to access 15hrs/week of pre-school education in the year before school,
  • This needs to be extended to three year olds because we need to improve our participation of 3 year olds in early learning – we’re currently in the bottom third of countries ranked by the OECD. 
  • Quality early learning also includes quality teaching and we need to see more government support of professional development, ideally through a funded national early childhood workforce strategy.

“We also want to make sure all our politicians know that one in five Australian children are developmentally vulnerable when they start school, and this is doubled for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to two in five being vulnerable when they start school,” said Ms Warrilow.

“There is overwhelming evidence in Australia and overseas that the best and most cost effective way to improve education outcomes and reduce inequality is to get as many children as possible into a quality early learning environment, and to support families to create a nurturing home environment,” said Mr Lucas.

“During the term of this parliament, there is a key opportunity to close the growing education achievement gap in Australia by enabling more children to access quality early learning in the years before they start formal schooling.”

In regard to the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment Jobs for Families Child Care Package Bill currently before the parliament – the campaign partners are broadly supporting the direction of the reforms and have welcomed the streamlined subsidy proposal and the additional investment in early learning through increased childcare subsidy spending as well as the increased inclusion support.  

There is concern about the potential impact of the ‘activity test’ as currently framed which could negatively impact on some children’s access to early learning – particularly where families have precarious or highly volatile workforce attachment.  The sustainability of moving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and rural/remote services (eg mobile preschools) to a mainstream subsidy model is also of concern.

We believe the reforms will be most effective if all young children have access to two days of quality and affordable early learning in the years before school.

“We ask all the Members and Senators of the 45th Parliament to consider carefully how they can put children first in legislation that comes before them, and above all -  ‘Don’t Fudge Early Learning’,” concluded Ms Page.

 

For more information visit www.everyonebenefits.org.au

Download the report: http://bit.ly/StateOfEarlyLearningReport2016

Media Inquiries: Carolin Wenzel, Campaign & Media Manager             0475 554 999

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