Minister must act today to save early learning sector

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Labor calls on the Minister for Education to act with urgency today to save the early learning sector.

Parents need clarity. Early Childhood Educators need clarity. Early Learning providers need clarity.

The early learning sector is on the brink of collapse as they deal with the impact of COVID-19, with the situation only expected to worsen.

Whilst the Government has announced the continued payment of the child care subsidy to services that are directed to close, they have provided very little support to centres that are forced to close due to rapidly declining enrolment rates.

The sector has made public pleas for assistance from the Government following plummeting attendance rates, which will threaten the viability of centres and could force them to close permanently.  Attendance rates will only get worse as more families choose to cease enrolment of their children if they are working from home, lose their jobs, or make a personal decision about their child’s attendance.

Through consultation with the sector, Labor has received an array of alarming feedback from providers including:-

Since my email yesterday we have now lost 65 places a week! That’s $6825 down a week since last Wednesday with many more expressing that by next Monday they will ceasing enrolments indefinitely.

I’ve had to send 4 educators home today, due to very low numbers. Parents wanting to withdraw children. It’s not financially viable to be open at the moment.

We are losing enrolments rapidly in line with the change of employment circumstances of our families. Therefore, at the time that we are mandated to close, depending on the duration we are expected to remain open in the interim, we may not have any remaining families, or may have so few families remaining so as to be unviable to operate financially and therefore may not have any entitlement to CCS.

If the Government does not provide urgent support to early learning providers during this time, we may end up facing the widespread permanent closure of early learning centres.

With 1.2 million families relying on the child care system, the permanent closure of early learning centres will have serious and long-term economic, educational and social ramifications for Australia.

There is no time to waste – every day that passes brings the sector closer to collapse. The Government must act today and introduce adequate support to ensure the early learning sector can survive this challenging time.

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