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Children in early childhood education lose out in Budget

Children in early childhood education lose out in Budget


Friday 16th May
Press Release: ChildForum


There is little to cheer the early childhood education sector in this year’s Budget, despite an apparent increase in funding, early childhood national network ChildForum says.

The Budget announced a $155.7million funding increase for the early childhood sector over four years, split into two parts – one for increasing subsidy rates (which was expected as successive Budgets have adjusted ECE subsidy rates to reflect rising costs) and the other for dealing with costs created by a push to increase child participation in early childcare and education.

However, ChildForum chief executive Dr Sarah Farquhar said the increases still left the sector in a worse position than a few years ago.

“Despite the increase announced in the Budget, subsidy rates will still be lower than they were before rate cuts in 2011,” she said.

“This means many early childhood services will still struggle to fund what they know to be important to provide for children. In fact, many services, especially part-day and community-based services are struggling simply to stay afloat and this small increase is unlikely to significantly improve their position.”

Dr Farquhar said that once again the government’s focus appeared to be on increasing the number of children participating in ECE and the number of hours which children attend a service, rather than on supporting parents, teachers and ECE providers to provide the standards of care and education needed.

“The Government is pushing its targets for participation in ECE, but it appears to be doing little to ensure that those extra children will be enrolled in high quality services, and that parents have a suitable range of good choices for their children,” Dr Farquhar said.

“The sector wants to improve quality, but in order to do so it needs support and that is not forthcoming. This Budget announcement focuses more on the costs associated with increased demand rather than other issues.”

Next week ChildForum will release on its website www.childforum.com the results of its latest survey canvassing the state of the early childhood sector, which show the Government is still out of step with the sector in terms of what it views as the most important issues.

An outline of Budget 2014 announcements and implications for the early childhood sector is available at: http://www.childforum.com/news-early-childhood-education-latest/1194-budget-2014-spending-increases-and-new-initiatives-for-the-early-childhood-education-ece-sector.html

ENDS ..

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