Childcare

In November 2009, the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee published a report into the provision of childcare:

The Report makes 10 recommendations as follows:

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that further research be carried out regarding the possible adverse effects of commencing formal childcare at very young ages and for long duration, possibly in conjunction with bodies such as the Centre for Community Child Health.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends the Government makes public detailed information pertaining to the use of Commonwealth funding by state and territory governments, to clarify the scope and impact of its promise to provide universal access of 15 hours per week of preschool services for all 4 year-olds in Australia in the childcare sector.

Recommendation 3

Noting recent funding increases, the committee nonetheless recommends that there be further funding increases for ECEC.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends a substantial increase in the level of funds paid directly to childcare operators in particular areas of need, through programs such as the Inclusion Support Subsidy: services for disadvantaged children, such as children with additional needs or indigenous children; and services operating in rural and remote areas or areas of high unmet demand such as low socioeconomic areas.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that economic modelling of various childcare funding models be carried out to establish the most efficient means of funding the quality provision of childcare services that meet the needs of families.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that funding of childcare services continue to be increased and, following a review of the current funding models including economic modelling of alternative mechanisms, increases to funding be implemented in accordance with those funding mechanisms that are identified as most effective.

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends that the government await the report of the Australia's Future Tax System Review Panel and recommendations within regarding the funding of the childcare sector. If no specific recommendations are made, the government should consider amending the current funding system based on the economic modelling to be carried out.

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends to the government the establishment of a new statutory body, widely representative of the sector, for the purposes of advising the minister on childcare policy and its implementation, with powers to oversee a uniform regulatory regime operating across states and territories.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that, in the interest of greater transparency and accountability, the new statutory childcare body be responsible for the following:

  • working with stakeholders to create a policy agenda which outlines priority areas, benchmarks and targets to be achieved in the area of early childhood education and care;
  • publishing an annual report which:
    • outlines the progress being made in these priority areas;
    • (a) details how Federal Government funding is being spent, especially by state and territory governments;
    • (b) details the state of the early childhood education and care sector including vacancy data, numbers of children with additional needs, information on staff, costs, usage, and other information that is already collected by Commonwealth Government agencies.

Recommendation 10

The committee further recommends to the government that this recommendation be taken to COAG for its consideration, particularly in view of the need to establish within the national body clear lines of responsibility between national, state and local obligations in regard to regulation and compliance.