Two steps we can take now to create a universal system of childcare

Right now, there are two steps towards a universal system of childcare that the government can and should implement.

The early childhood education and care workforce is in crisis, with record staff shortages and high turnover.

The Australian Childcare Alliance states that at least 10,000 additional teachers and educators are needed to address urgent supply shortages.

Current wage rates for early childhood educators are a significant barrier to attracting and retaining workers.

That’s why I’m calling for a wage increase for all early childhood educators.

Sooner, not later.

Early childhood educators, 92% of whom are women, should be valued and respected.

The government should also abolish the Activity Test, which limits the number of hours parents can access subsidised childcare based on the number of hours they work.

A recent report by Impact Economics and Policy found the Activity Test contributed to at least 126,000 Australian children from low-income households missing out on early childhood education.

It estimated GDP would increase by $4.5 billion a year if the test was abolished because there would be an extra 36,830 mothers with young children who would be able to work.

Scrapping the Activity Test was one of the key recommendations of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce.

Affordable and accessible childcare is critical for growing the economy and enabling women to work.

Women in Australia have similar levels of labour force participation to men, until they have children when they fall behind and never catch up.

And, as The Parenthood says, quality early childhood education and care is the golden ticket. It’s the foundation of our society and sets children up to succeed.

By the age of 5, 90% of a child’s brain is fully developed. Children who attend quality early education and care are twice as likely to reach their development targets once at school. Currently, 1 in 5 children arrives at school behind and it’s hard for them to catch up.

What could be more important than giving a child the best start in life?

Australia needs a universal system of childcare. #makeitlaw

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