Early Learning: Everyone Benefits Campaign Update
Achieving our campaign targets
Goal 1: Increasing public awareness and understanding
To motivate and enable educators, parents and community groups to advocate for quality early learning for all children, our key target is to engage 3000 parents and 5000 early childhood education and care professionals with our website, and have 10 000 Facebook followers by December 2018
Campaign website sign-ons
We are now up to a total of 5885 website sign-ons (up from 4788 in August). With 2610 educators and 3275 parents (up from just 576 in August) receiving monthly email updates. The increase in parent sign-ons is a direct result of the outreach by all the campaign partners, sponsor and supporters to promote the parent surveys.
We now have around 8000 followers (up from 5000 in December 2016), with a reach of 270 000 in October and 10 000 engagements. Our goal by December 2018 is 10 000 Facebook followers, with an average reach per month of 100 000 and 200 interactions.
Our top post in October (and for the last three months) was the video of the Acknowledgement of Country by YMCA Holder at our State of early learning in Australia event at Parliament house—more than 31 000 reached and 110 00 views.
Another objective under this goal is to show how participation of children in quality early childhood education and care benefits child development, families, communities and national prosperity. One target to achieve this was to develop and distribute survey(s) to more than 100 000 parents, receive more than 1000 responses, gain more parent sign-ups and media coverage.
Benefits and barriers to participation in early learning
Thanks to the efforts of all the campaign partners, sponsors and supporters in contacting their services and stakeholders to invite parents to participate in the survey, and direct emails to parents on their lists. We reached more than 100 000 parents and had just under 3000 responses to the survey (double our goal). More than half elected to sign up to the campaign, so it was effective at reaching and engaging more parents in the campaign.
The survey found overwhelmingly high recognition of the many benefits to their children’s social, emotional and cognitive development, but high levels of difficulty accessing services.
Ninety-six per cent of parents agreed, or strongly agreed, that their child had experienced positive experiences and developed skills from their participation in early childhood education and care. Some parents said their children initially had difficulties adjusting to a program and they needed to try a few services before they found the right place for their child.
More than 90 per cent of parents said their children had improved their social skills, confidence and emotional capacity as a result of attending early learning, and they had observed improvements in their thinking, speaking and listening skills. Parents also commented on their children’s engagement in creative projects and benefitting from building relationships with children and educators.
Read more here.
a) Children’s experience survey and focus groups
Our survey asking parents to ask their children questions about their experience of early learning had around 400 responses. To back this up we ran 10 focus groups in three states, with 60 children in total.
We asked children what they like to do best, and all the things they loved to do. Playing was the dominant answer—outside, with each other, with toys, playing games and sport, and ‘dress-up and pretending’.
When we asked what they like to do best at home with parents or carers, again playing together, with or without toys, and going to playgrounds together were the two top responses—more than 80 per cent. The next most popular was reading bedtime stories at 67 per cent.
Also in the focus group, all types of play featured strongly in the children’s responses and in their drawings about what they enjoy doing and how they like to learn. They said they like to play outside and inside—in their drawings and comments they talked and showed they love to play sport, climb and play on outside equipment, play in sand pits, play games and play make-believe.
Read more, including children’s comments, here.
Media coverage of surveys
We had two great radio interviews by ABC RN Life Matters and Kinderling Conversation with ECA CEO Samantha Page and The Parenthood Executive Director Jo Briskey and Principal Campaign Manager Nicole Lessio.
Goal 2: To secure political commitment to increase access to quality programs that amplify children’s development
One target to secure commitment to improve policies by political leaders and parties was to produce the State of early learning in Australia report, gain media coverage and hold a national launch event, attended by politicians.
State of early learning in Australia report
The report was widely praised in the sector, especially by ACECQA National Education Leader Rhonda Livingstone and respected academic Deb Brennan, for its comprehensiveness and clear messaging.
We achieved media coverage nationally on ABC Radio AM and The World Today, SBS News, The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald, syndicated to more than 100 Fairfax online papers, as well as online outlets The Conversation, Kidspot and internet radio show Kinderling Conversation, and an in-depth discussion of the report on the Early Education Show Podcast—Episode 45.
These stories featured interviews and comments by ECA CEO Samantha Page, ELAA CEO Shane Lucas, Goodstart Advocacy Manager John Cherry, Uniting Care National Director Claerwen Little and Gowrie NSW CEO Lynne Harwood.
In total there were 253 media items (through syndication) that reached about 19 million views.
We held a State of early learning in Australia morning tea at Parliament House during Children’s Week (24 October), which Minister Simon Birmingham spoke at. It was attended by government, opposition and Greens Senators and MPs.
Highlights of this event included the involvement of 10 preschoolers from YMCA Early Learning Holder, showing us their early learning activities, and leading an Acknowledgement of Country; and Greg Hutchinson’s compelling talk on the business motivation to invest in early learning was heard by Minister Birmingham. His speech is posted on the campaign website here.
The full event was recorded by the Early Education Show podcast - Episode 50—it includes all the speeches plus interviews of key participants.
Political lobbying meetings were organised for CEOs and senior managers from campaign partner organisations ECA, ELAA, Goodstart, C&K and The Parenthood. Meetings were held with the new Shadow Early Childhood Minister Amanda Rishworth—just as she was announced to take over by Tanya Plibersek—and backbenchers, including Anne Aly (first female Muslim MP).
Focus for 2018–2019
Our immediate focus is to secure ongoing funding to continue the campaign through the next year and up to the next Federal Election. We urge all current campaign partners and sponsors to contribute again, for campaign supporters to upgrade their involvement. ECA staff is making efforts to secure new partners and sponsors, as well as further financial support.
In early 2018 we will boost our communication to early childhood educators, to increase their engagement and involvement in the campaign. We need to involve as many educators and parents as possible, and get our campaign sign-ups and Facebook followers up to more than 10 000 to convince politicians that there is strong public support for our campaign messages.
A key opportunity is to monitor the impact of the childcare subsidy reforms on vulnerable children and families, when they come online in July 2018, especially if there is any reduction on children’s participation in early learning.
As stated in the Campaign Plan, our key political aim is to influence each party’s early childhood policies to reflect commitment to the EDUCATION benefits for children flowing on to benefit the whole community (not just benefits of parents returning to work) and to increased investment in early learning.
Our long-term vision is for all families to have access to at least two days per week of affordable quality early childhood education and care for children from the end of paid parental leave until children transition to school.
We want Australia to achieve the target of 100 per cent participation in the year before school (four-year-old preschool) and 90 per cent of three-year-olds attending a preschool program by 2020.