New data released as part of the Report on Government Services has revealed that the sector is continuing to improve in quality ratings and educator qualifications, while Government spending on the sector has dramatically slowed.
The Federal Government has repeatedly claimed that they are planning on investing a significant amount in early childhood education and care (or child care as they refer to it) as part of their new Child Care Package. But the data shows that during the Coalition’s time in Government, their spending on the sector has slowed to minimal increases each year.
In the period between 2015 and 2017, real expenditure from the Federal Government increased by only $274,000. By comparison, between 2012 and 2014 expenditure grew by $1,400,000 – more than 5 times as much.
While funding support from the Federal Government has dropped, services have continued to demonstrate improvement in a number of key areas.
73.4% of NQF services are now rated Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standards, up from 70.4% in the 2017 report. In 2013 this was 55.6%, representing significant work by the sector in quality improvement.
As of 2016, 85.2% of NQF services held a minimum Children’s Services qualification. In 2010, only 69.8% held a qualification, an increase of over 15%. This amounts to over 50,000 new educators with a qualification – directly improving the quality of learning experienced by children across the country.
It’s important to remember that these increases have been achieved at the same time as funding for professional development for the sector has ended, and there is no current Workforce Strategy for educators.
Access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
While the proportion of children aged 0-5 attending an early childhood service has increased from 18.5% to 21.2% between 2013 and 2016, the proportion of Indigenous children has hardly changed over the same timeframe – dropping slightly from 2.9% to 2.8%. This is despite the fact that Indigenous children are 5.6% of the 0-5 age group.