ACT Labor to deliver more places, new centres and better trained staff in childcare

ACT Labor knows how important education is.  Lifelong learning is the foundation for prosperity in Canberra’s second century and ACT Labor wants to make sure every child has the opportunity to thrive.

We already work closely with teachers, schools and parents to make sure our kids get a high quality, early childhood education to make sure they get the best start in life.

Availability of affordable and quality childcare is an important part of mix in the early years.  It also means that parents can return to work when they are ready and more mums are returning to work sooner.

ACT Labor is committed to ensuring Canberra families have access to affordable, quality childcare.

Providing support to working families has enormous social benefits – employers retain the skill and expertise of a significant part of the workforce, and our economy benefits from the increased productivity.

ACT Labor recognises that every year there is greater demand for quality early education and care, and that is why we have invested more long daycare places and steadily grown the number of places available.

ACT Labor has delivered an increase of over 500 in childcare places 2011-2012 and will deliver around 500 more places in 2012-2013.

We have overseen a 94 per cent growth in the number of childcare places since 2001 and a 33 per cent increase in the number of long daycare centres in the ACT.

This is in stark difference to the stagnation in investment prior to 2001 under the Liberals with no growth in long daycare services between 1998 and 2001.

We have invested in building new childcare centres in areas of high demand, including building new centres in Holder, Franklin and Flynn, and we have a land release schedule for new centres in McKellar, Giralang, Holt, Conder, Gungahlin and Macarthur, some of which have already sold.  But there is more to do.

If re-elected, ACT Labor will provide $4.5 million to deliver more affordable quality childcare across Canberra to create up to 100 new childcare places.

We will release at least three additional sites for new childcare centres and provide $6,000 scholarships for early childhood education and care educators wishing to get a degree in early childhood education.

We will extend our Certificate III scholarships program and provide $740,000 to give 90 more early childhood educators the chance to further their education.

 

Policy Costings

ACT Labor will provide ACT Labor will provide $5.54 million in capital and recurrent funding over four years to deliver more affordable, quality childcare for Canberra families and more accessible and flexible training and skills programs for education and care workers.

ACT Labor’s plan to deliver more places, new centres and better trained staff in childcare

 

2013 – 2014

2014–2015

2015–2016

2016–2017

TOTAL

Expanding early

childhood centres (capital)

$2.0m

$2.50m

-

-

$4.50m

Release three sites for new childcare centres

-

-

-

-

-

Early childhood education scholarships (recurrent)

$0.02m

$0.06m

$0.09m

$0.13m

$0.30m

Certificate III scholarships (recurrent)

$0.24m

$0.25m

$0.25m

-

$0.74m

TOTAL

$2.26m

$2.81m

$0.34m

$0.13m

$5.54m

What have we already done?

In Government, ACT Labor has consistently invested in the early childhood education and care sector to ensure that families have a range of care options for their children, and that they can have confidence that the ACT offers the highest standard of early education and care in the country.

We have delivered tens of millions of dollars in the past two Budgets to strengthen our city’s early education and care sector which has delivered a surge in numbers giving families choice and quality in childcare.


We have worked closely with the sector to ensure that Government support targets the areas of greatest need, both for families and the sector.  That is why as well as investing to create more childcare places, we have also worked with the sector to develop programs and initiatives that are supporting workers to undertake additional studies in early childhood education, and to support the sector more broadly to attract and retain workers in this important profession.

ACT Labor has already delivered:

  • Over $9 million in capital works to allow several existing childcare centres to offer hundreds more places across Canberra;
  • $785,000 to provide 75 scholarships for early childhood educators to gain a Certificate III in Children’s Services;
  • $900,000 to help the sector transition to the National Quality Framework;
  • A comprehensive workforce strategy to assist in attracting and retaining early childhood education and care staff and educators
  • A waiver of the Lease Variation Charge for centres that seek to offer additional childcare places; and
  • Successfully worked with the sector to implement the National Quality Framework for Early Education and Care, which commenced nationally from 1 January 2012 and sets quality standards that reflect the importance of a child’s early years.

 

What will these new commitments deliver in childcare?

ACT Labor will deliver additional funding to upgrade existing childcare centres, enabling them to offer more places.

ACT Labor will provide $4.5 million over two years to increase early childcare places in areas of high need across Canberra.  This will provide up to 100 new childcare places and assist existing centres transition to the National Quality Framework.

The funding will go towards upgrading ACT Government facilities currently leased to community childcare providers across the ACT.  Community-based childcare providers make up more than two thirds of the sector in the ACT, and of these a majority occupy ACT Government-owned facilities.  These capital grants will be used to design and build upgrades which will expand the number of available childcare places and complement the requirements of the National Quality Framework.

This investment will build on the successful capital upgrades program which ACT Labor has embarked on.  The 2011-12 budget provided $9 million for childcare centres in Government owned facilities to upgrade to meet the new child to staff ratios under the National Quality Framework and increase the number of licensed places available, as identified by the ACT Government Infrastructure Plan 2011-2021, and a further $2.5 million was provided in the 2012-13 Budget.

ACT Labor will release at least three additional sites for the construction of new childcare centres in areas of high demand

Under ACT Labor, the Territory’s land and planning agencies (the ACT Planning and Land Authority and the Land Development Agency) work closely with the Community Services Directorate to ensure the land release program responds to the community child care needs.

This work allows for the agencies to work together to identify and map out areas of childcare demand, and  release land for the construction of new child care centres in a timely manner. Already in 2012 several blocks have been sold to private child care developers, with a number of sites to be sold in the coming months which are also likely to be developed into childcare centres.If re-elected, ACT Labor will build on this strategic planning to identify and release at least a further three sites for the private construction of early childhood education and care centre, in addition to the land already committed for release. Priority areas will be Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen.

More financial support for early childhood education and care educators to build their skills and attain the qualifications required under the new national standards.

ACT Labor will deliver a new scholarship program for up to 25 early childcare educators wishing to gain a university degree in early childhood education.  These scholarships will provide up to $6 000 over 4 years to early childhood educators.

The scholarship will be available to those employed in the sector wishing to build their skills and can be used for the purchase of text books and to meet other costs.

These scholarships build on ACT Labor’s highly successful scholarship program funded in the 2011-12 Budget for students wishing to obtain a Certificate III in childcare through the Canberra Institute of Technology.

The scholarships support the sector to transition to the new national standards. The National Quality Framework sets minimum qualification requirements for staff in the sector that will be phased in from 2014. ACT Labor has worked closely with the sector to support its transition to the new national standards and respond to its needs.

 

ACT Labor will extend the successful Certificate III in Children’s Services scholarships program to deliver accessible and flexible training and skills programs for education and care workers.

In the 2011-12 Budget the ACT Labor Government provided $785,000 over two years to help early childhood educators to gain a Certificate III in Children’s Services.  This funding has provided for about 86 scholarships that cover full course fees, employer payment to replace the educator for two hours per week for up to 50 weeks, start-up costs of $300 towards items necessary for their course (laptop, computer programs, textbooks or stationery), and any additional support required (tutoring, literacy and numeracy).

The program was extremely popular with the sector, which is why ACT Labor will extend it for another three years, providing an additional 90 scholarships at a cost of $740,000. These scholarships will be made available to students currently employed in the early education and care sector and enrolled in an early childhood degree course from an accredited Australian education institution or Australian university.