The ASU has expressed its great concern at reports the Federal Government will cut child care funding by reneging on deals made with the sector to provide money to attract and retain child care centre staff who currently receive very low pay.
Hitting child care centres with reduced funding is a clear move away from providing quality pre-school care and education to our children, quality improvements being a focus under the previous Government's reforms to the child care area.
The Early Years Quality Fund, which was designed to encourage higher qualifications and recognition for early childhood professionals through conditions of employment and financial recognition of staff, also has the added benefit of increasing retention of staff. Improved retention saves employers on training and employment costs, and provides children with continuity of care. Not to mention the benefits gained from staff with more experience who are able to acquire and share more knowledge in their centres. The Government also saves via retention by not needing to train as many new staff to fill gaps created by people leaving the sector.
This important initiative by the previous Federal Government was an important step in addressing the balance in the industry to benefit all, but most of all the children learning at our child care centres.
Local government provided child care services, not for profit services that set the benchmark for the whole child care sector, were also to benefit from the Fund as it continued to roll out.
ASU Assistant National Secretary Greg McLean said, "There are many things wrong with the new Government's move, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend, but to reduce funding to an area that is rapidly growing creates a range of difficulties including with retention of experienced staff and availability of child care places."
"The funding also helps providers attract and retain new staff so the cuts just make no sense at all."
"The timing of these cuts is also dubious when the Federal Government has asked the Productivity Commission to review child care - it seems very strange to us or is it an attempt to predetermine an outcome from the Productivity Commission?" asked Greg McLean.
The ASU believes the Early Years Quality Fund should be maintained and continue its roll out and the benefits be looked at both socially and economically. There is much research to back the notion that the highest quality care at pre-school level generates benefits for both the individuals and families involved, as well as society as a whole.
You can read the Sydney Morning Herald article here: Coalition to axe pay rise for 30,000 childcare workers, 24 November 2013, by Bianca Hall.