There has never been a more important moment for reimagining Australia’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) system. The economic restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated both the essential nature of ECEC services to Australia’s economy and health and safety, as well as the fragile nature of the current system. In the COVID-19 context, reimagining a fit for purpose ECEC system for our future is critical.
The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many individuals and families experiencing financial hardship and poverty as a result of job losses and reduction in working hours, a disproportionate loss of jobs and working hours among women, and disruptions to the lives of children and young people where risk factors which threaten child development may be amplified, and protective factors reduced.[i] Reimagining child care should be considered in the context of enabling the following three outcomes:
- The benefits of ECEC for child development
- Gender equality and women’s workforce participation
- Australia’s economic recovery and resilience
An accessible and equitable ECEC system that is appropriate to the current context of economic recession and recovery is needed. Such a system would promote gender equality, the equitable redistribution of unpaid and paid work, and universal early childhood education and care.
[i] Teager, W., Fox, S. and Stafford, N. (2019). How Australia can invest early and return more: A new look at the $15b cost and opportunity. Early Intervention Foundation, The Front Project and CoLab at the Telethon Kids Institute, Australia; available from: https://cdn.minderoo.org/content/uploads/2019/10/15174253/20191016-COLI-Report.pdf, 28 July 2020.