May 10th, 2022

Workforce crisis and rising childcare costs evidence of urgent need for early learning reform.


Workforce crisis and rising childcare costs evidence of urgent need for early learning reform

6 April 2022New data from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority shows nearly 15 per cent of long day care centres nationwide do not meet the staffing requirements of the National Quality Framework [1].

Meanwhile in February 2022 alone there were 5,622 vacancies in the early childhood education and care sector across Australia, double pre-pandemic levels [2].

The increase in interest rates to 0.35% announced by the Reserve Bank of Australia earlier this week has also combined with the rising costs of childcare to ratchet up pressure on family budgets and risk children missing out on early learning.

Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill said: “The early learning and childcare sector has long faced workforce shortage issues, and now COVID-19 and a lack of workforce planning are pushing the sector to crisis point.

“New figures show nearly 15 per cent of long day care did not meet national requirements for staffing in the first quarter of the year alone.

“There are also currently thousands of job vacancies in early childhood education, increasing pressure on existing staff and leading to spot closures of rooms, limiting access to early learning for children.

“We’ve got a situation where children’s safety is at risk, costs of early learning and childcare services are going up, many parents who want to work are being kept at home, and we’re missing out on all the economic benefits from greater workforce participation.

“More than 70,000 Australians did not work in 2021 due to the high cost of early learning and childcare service, according to the Productivity Commission [3].

“Australia is also missing out on the workplace benefits of greater investment in early learning, growing jobs in the care economy and improving respect and pay for this female-dominated workforce.

“This is not a party political issue, addressing the workforce crisis and early learning reform is about improving the lives of Australian children, women and families and it will grow our economy at the same time. 

“We urge all political parties to commit to universally accessible, safe, and high quality early learning and childcare,” Mr Weatherill said.

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