AT LAST A GUARANTEE OF TWO YEARS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FOR AUSTRALIA’S CHILDREN
Australian Community Children’s Services (ACCS) congratulates the ALP on its announcement of guaranteed access to 15 hours per week of subsidised early childhood education for all 3 and 4 year olds.
ACCS Nationwide Research shows Community children’s services are delivering some of the highest quality services in Australia.
The 4th wave of the ACCS Trends in Community Children’s Services is now available. It shows that community services are leading the way in:
• providing quality education and care services for children and families
• demonstrating a commitment to continuous quality improvement and strong support for the National Quality Framework
• providing wages and conditions above award
The research showed that community children’s services are working more closely with the wider community and have noticed an increase in the number of children attending services who are in vulnerable circumstances.
Community children’s services are concerned that children who will most benefit from ECEC will have reduced access to ECEC as a result of the reduction in eligible subsidised hours for children of families who don’t meet the Child Care Subsidy activity test. The research showed that community children’s services believe that access to ECEC can be supported through the provision of fee relief, financial support and even free ECEC services.
Community children’s services are prioritising structural aspects of quality, providing services with higher than prescribed ratios of children to educators and employing educators with higher than prescribed qualifications.
ACCS submitted to the Senate Inquiry into the impact of red tape on child care services stressing that the focus on compliance linked to quality ensures safety and well-being for children and safeguards against the use of Government funds to subsidise poor quality and unsafe services that would have potential to harm children. Community children’s services remain very supportive of the National Quality Framework and associated law and regulations.
ACCS presented ideas to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training on ways to gather clear evidence of the impact of the new Child Care support system on:
- women’s workforce participation
- the participation of families experiencing vulnerability
- sustainability of the service system in communities where many families do not meet the new Activity Test.
25 August 2017
ACCS has provided advice to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on the potential establishment of a very large private provider in the Outside School Hours Services sector. We have drawn on the knowledge of our members and our observations about the dangerous impact of large corporations operating in the long day care sector.
Australian Community Children’s Services (ACCS) invites you to complete the Trends in Community Children’s Services Survey (TICCSS), and to share your views and experiences of delivering not-for-profit children’s services at this time.
Your views and experiences are a vital ingredient for effective advocacy for community children’s services around Australia. In this 4th wave we would like to hear about your service’s experiences with the national quality framework, recruitment and retention of staff, ratios, waiting lists, fees and fee increases, and vulnerabilities in your community.
ACCS is pleased to have received funding from the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council to conduct another three waves of TICCSS, from 2017 to 2020. This research has ethical approval through the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), approval number 1700000692.
For more information, please follow this link to the Participant Information Sheet.
To start the survey, please click here.
ACCS encourages the Labor Party to think big. We ask that Labor considers a national policy framework that works towards the well-being of all Australia’s children that includes ECEC.
ACCS is particularly pleased with the eligibility criteria requiring not-for-profit status for the recipient agencies. However, we believe that the goals of the Community Child Care Fund would be better served if the Guidelines recognised that some services will not be able to transition to a model of operation that is self-sustaining. Entrenched poverty, long-term unemployment and disadvantage make sustainability without additional government funding impossible in many communities.
Reports from the national quality agency ACECQA continue to show that not-for-profit services have higher quality ratings than for-profit operators.
This comparison is possible due to lobbying from ACCS for ACECQA to report quality ratings by service type.
ACCS calls on the Senate to reject the Omnibus Bill to protect the interests of the tens of thousands of families and children using community owned and not-for-profit children’s services.
ACCS rejects a proposal from the Commonwealth Education Department to set up a Preferred Provider Scheme as a strategy to improve the quality of training in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector.
We believe that resources are more effectively directed to strengthening the capacity of the regulator ASQA to regulate RTOs.
Our submission sets out ten actions that government and the regulator can take to put poor quality RTOs out of action
ACCS has called on the Senate to vote against the Jobs for Families Child Care Package Bill in its current form.
ACCS recommends to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee to apply the first principle of children’s best interests to its review of the Bill.
The Coalition has replied to our request for a response to the ACCS Federal Election Platform. In it, they formally acknowledge their appreciation of ACCS’s contribution to the development of policy on child care. In particular they acknowledge our participation in the Productivity Commission Inquiry, the Regulatory Impact Statement and other consultations and say that ‘we are grateful for your ongoing insights and input.’
‘It has been particularly worthwhile having Prue Warrilow represent ACCS on the Ministerial Advisory Council…’
Click on the link below to read the full response and see the match to our policy proposal to maintain the minimum two days per week of subsidised care for non-working families and a partial response to our call for building of a skilled and professional early childhood workforce.
ACCS has assessed the policies of the major parties against the ACCS platform for the federal election.
Our scorecard shows that once again the Greens are well ahead of the ALP and the Coalition trails behind. But none of the parties fully delivers what we believe is good policy for Australia’s children.
So there is more work to be done after the election by those who believe in the right of Australia’s children to access quality, not for profit, community children’s services.
The full scorecard can be viewed here:
The ALP has replied to our request for a response to the ACCS Federal Election Platform. Click on the link below to read the response and see the match to our policy proposal to maintain the minimum two days per week of subsidised care for non-working families and a partial response to our call for building of a skilled and professional early childhood workforce.
The Greens Party has replied immediately to our request for a response to the ACCS Federal Election Platform.
Click on the link below to see the close match to our policy proposals that benefit children and their families.
ACCS calls on its members across Australia to distribute the response from the Greens to families in their communities – to inform their vote on 2 July.
A full score card, assessing the policies of all the major parties against the ACCS election policies will be published when all responses are received.
As the peak body advocating nationally for the right of Australia’s children to access quality, not for profit, community children’s services, ACCS calls on the major parties contesting the federal election to respond to our headline issues:
- Increase the fee subsidy to 90 per cent of the full costs of early childhood education and care (ECEC) for low income families and 100 per cent of the full costs for children who are experiencing vulnerability or who are at risk
- All children, including those of non-working parents, are eligible for subsidised ECEC for at least 2 days per week – from a minimum of 18 hours up to 24 hours per week reflecting the operating hours of the service
- Build a skilled and professional early childhood workforce – no HECS, free TAFE
- No children and their families in detention in Australia or off-shore
ACCS is concerned that increased focus on support for parents working or studying will shift the focus of Australian Government policy away from the best interests of the child and the principle of universal access.
At the mid-point in the five year process of improving the qualifications of educators and ratio of educators to children, and two years into the new early childhood assessment and rating system – the sector is successfully meeting requirements and staff reluctance to embrace change is reducing.
Children’s best interests must be the first principle and underpinning rationale for all deliberations, recommendations to the Australian Government and government policies.
To see more qualified staff in the education and care sector to support the provision of quality education and care that all children and families deserve… cannot be achieved without authentic and ongoing sector engagement.
ACCS welcomes the recommendations for a single subsidy to replace CCB & CCR, increased investment in subsidies for low income families and ongoing funding for universal access to 15 hours of preschool.
Any decisions regarding children’s services should be made with children’s interests as the first principle.
As the first phase of the National Quality Framework commences the community children’s services sector is embracing the reforms – the vast majority of services are already meeting the new standards.
A key issue that has been challenging the ECEC sector is the low status of the workforce.
ACCS is excited about this timely review by the Productivity Commission. There are significant changes occurring in the early childhood sector through the Council of Australia Governments (COAG) process and the early childhood reforms it is implementing. These changes will impact on the quality assurance frameworks applied to children’s services, the regulations that underpin this frameworks and the early childhood sector workforce that will be implementing these changes…
ACCS wishes to emphasise a key underlying issue facing the early childhood education and care sector – our preferred term for the sector – and that is low status. The low standing of the early childhood education and care workforce impacts on the sector’s ability to recruit and retain staff…
It is crucial that the Regulations are clear and understandable, limiting personal interpretation, misunderstanding and ambiguity.
The Bill provides the opportunity to entrench the intent of key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) into a separate statutory office which values children as citizens and holders of rights.
ACCS welcomes the Bill’s intent for the Commissioner to coordinate policies, programs and funding across Australia which impact on children and young people (Bill 2010 3.3.c; p3). Such an approach is long overdue and will overarch the current fragmented approach to policy as it relates to children, young people and the families and communities that surround them.
ACCS has always argued that the CCR is a flawed mechanism and calls on the Government to abandon the rebate and roll the funds into increasing CCB fee subsidies for low and middle income families. High income families on $100,000 a year or more receive double the rebate of families on low incomes of under $30,000. Child Care Benefit is a progressive system of support
for families, offering the highest assistance where it is most needed. The rebate undoes all of the good work of CCB…
ACCS supports the amendment which will modify the terminology in the Trades Practises Act 1974 to prevent corporations from directly or indirectly merging or acquiring an asset which would result in ‘material’ lessening of competition in the relevant market.
All formal children’s services should be regulated through the Federal Government thus removing duplication of current state/territory licensing requirements and Federal Government quality assurance.
ACCS believes that government must use both regulatory and public policy levers to ensure that what remains of ABC Learning does not grow again and that no future child care operator can grow to be such a monolith in the children’s services sector. The
government must maintain control in children’s services as the market does not deliver consumer power for families…
ACCS believes that families and children have the right to choose not for profit community owned children’s services. No community should be limited to commercial, for-profit services.
ACCS believes that the Australian Government has an important role in developing planning legislation for all service types (long day care, occasional care, family day care, outside school hours care, in-home care) that ensures that families have access to not-for-profit community owned children’s services, allowing families’ choice in child care. Australia needs a system that allows and encourages the development of community owned services, while preventing new commercial for-private-profit services from opening where they will undermine the viability of existing services…
ACCS, as the national peak body advocating for the right of Australia’s children to access quality, not-for-profit, community children’s services opposes the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) in the Northern Territory (NT). ACCS calls on the Commonwealth Government to act immediately to introduce amendments to the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation (NTER) to ensure it complies with the RDA…
There are significant areas of duplication between state/territory licensing and the quality assurance process.FOR FULL SUBMISSION SEE HERE
The collapse of ABC Learning may have a positive impact – the stability of the not-for-profit sector is not reduced by the collapse of ABC. The not-for-profit sector has the best track record for being committed for the long haul and for being responsive to community needs.