Statement regarding recent media coverage of childcare in the ACT

9 February 2016

Many of you may have seen some recent reports in The Canberra Times regarding the affordability and quality of early childhood education and care in the ACT.

While the media coverage raised important issues, I believe that some information was misleading and could rightly concern parents. We would like to take the opportunity to provide some more context about the issues raised, and reassure parents of the hundreds of children who enjoy care at our early childhood services.

Cost to families

Claiming that childcare in the ACT is ‘the most expensive’ in Australia is misleading, as it is comparing Canberra’s 347 services with the over 5,000 which operate in NSW.

The statistics cited highlight the averages of all jurisdictions, thereby population size and socioeconomic factors significantly affect data.  A quick search on mychild.gov.au reveals that while most services in Canberra sit at $100 per day, many services in Sydney are over $160 per day.

Comparing Goulburn to Sydney, similarly as it is to compare Queanbeyan to Canberra, is counterproductive and does not factor in the skewed data associated with an ‘average’ cost.

Staff qualifications

Claiming that across the board, ACT educators are underqualified is deceptive and inflammatory.

Qualifications for early childhood educators are established nationally through the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

At YWCA Canberra we value experienced and dedicated educators, therefore we are proud that every one of our educators either holds a qualification (from a Bachelor of Education to Certificate III), or is studying towards a qualification.  We also contribute to producing a high-calibre of early childhood educators in Canberra through our training unit, where we offer a Certificate III and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

Quality service

We are highly supportive of the National Quality Framework, which provides a clear focus on driving quality in the sector, and I know that many others in the sector strive and succeed in achieving continuous quality improvement.

That is why recent media coverage declaring that ACT childcare services ‘fare badly’ when it comes to service quality is misleading and unnecessarily alarming for Canberra parents.

Again, the averaging out of service quality data across jurisdictions significantly impacts the accuracy of such data. In comparison to other jurisdictions, in the ACT not a single service has been rated ‘Significant Improvement Required’ (NSW currently has 8).

Further, 31% of ACT services have not yet been assessed at all. The assessment process began over two years ago, so the waiting period for services to achieve a rating that matches the quality of service which they provide is unreasonable at best.

We firmly believe that quality early childhood education and care plays a vital role in a child’s development. As such, we are committed to building on our reputation as a provider of consistent, high-quality and innovative early childhood services to children and families in the ACT.

If you would like more information about these issues, please feel free to contact myself, or the Early Childhood Services Manager, Louise Billman.

Kind regards

 

Bernadette Carbin

Director, Children’s Services

 

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