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Leading up to the election, Labor campaigned on an ambitious suite of early childhood policies, including 15 hours of funded preschool for every Australian three-year-old and $4 billion to increase childcare subsidies.
The Coalition said little about early childhood reform. It did put in place a reformed set of childcare subsidies that came into force in July 2018. These streamlined a previously complex funding system and benefited some (but not all) low-income families.
Australia - Childhood - Sector - Children - Families
Yet Australia is still far from having an early childhood sector that delivers what children and families need. Here's where the next government needs to look to ensure an effective, affordable early childhood sector for Australia.
The evidence for the benefits of quality preschool is well established. So far, the Coalition has committed to another 12 months of funding for four-year-old preschool. But there is a strong case for long-term investment.
School - Readiness - Children - Partnership - Agreement
School readiness among Australian children has improved since the first national partnership agreement on four-year-old preschool funding in 2009. Ongoing funding would also improve efficiency in preschool provision by allowing providers to plan ahead.
Evidence also shows the earlier children can access quality early childhood services, the better their longer-term learning outcomes are likely to be.
Jury - Kind - Model - Opportunities - Children
But the jury is still out about what kind of model will best provide these opportunities to Australian children.
Australia has a complex early childhood sector. An estimated 57.8% of Australian three-year-olds are already enrolled in preschool—although the Australian Bureau of Statistics advises caution in reporting preschool data. This is because "preschool" can mean many things, including stand-alone services, programs in childcare, or preschools located in schools.
Different - Models - Preschool - Australia - Victoria
Different models for three-year-old preschool are emerging across Australia. Victoria is providing subsidised preschool to three-year-olds in all settings (including long daycare); NSW is funding community preschools only; while the ACT is yet to release details. Other jurisdictions are targeting preschool...
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