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Poor Quality Early Childhood Education Questioned

5 August 2013: News from CPAG

Child Poverty Action Group questions enforced participation in Poor Quality Early Childhood Education.

CPAG spokesperson Associate Professor Mike O'Brien says the government is short-changing vulnerable children, ignoring research that high quality early childhood education is crucial for at risk children.

CPAG is concerned the government's rush to boost participation in Early Childhood Education is taking short cuts which at risk children will ultimately pay for.

He says the recent working paper from the Children's Commissioner acknowledges that copious research has shown quality early childhood education is most advantageous to vulnerable children.

Assoc. Prof O'Brien says there is unfair access to high quality ECE services in poorer areas and the concern is the government's Participation programme has put children into home based care or playgroup services that have minimal contact with qualified teachers.

Prominent Early Childhood Education researcher Professor Anne Smith says poor quality services will only serve to further disadvantage at risk young children.

The government has applauded its success to meet targets for its Participation programme enrolling up to 4,000 under five-year olds. However CPAG and other organisations worry about the quality of services available.

The government has overlooked its 2011 Early Childhood Taskforce report that recommended registered teachers make up 80 per cent of staff for early childhood education services. The government has lowered this ratio to a minimum of 50 per cent.

Assoc. Prof O'Brien says the recent welfare reforms force parents on benefits to enrol children into ECE from the ages of three or forfeit half their payment. "High quality affordable early childhood education services are crucial for vulnerable children."

CPAG supports the call by the Children's Commissioner for additional support for families engagement with children's learning and development in the home environment and acknowledges the role of partnership between parents and teachers in high quality, culturally responsive early childhood services in modelling and supporting children's early education.

ends

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