Campaign highlights why Early Learning Matters
More than 20 Goodstart Early Learning centres from throughout the country will take part in Early Learning Matters Week, an initiative aimed at Australian politicians to showcase quality learning.
Goodstart centres will host Federal MPs and Senators next week in an effort to increase community understanding of the long-term benefits of early learning for children and their families.
This year marks the first time childhood services from every state and territory have coordinated to invite their local federal politicians to visit in the same week.
Goodstart Advocacy manager John Cherry said most of a child’s brain development occurred before they start school, and access to early learning helped stimulate later learning outcomes.
“Early learning helps to amplify children’s natural skills and abilities,” Mr Cherry said. “And research shows high quality early education delivers long-term benefits into adulthood, and is powerful intervention for children who experience disadvantage.”
Research also shows children who attend high quality early learning have higher grades in school, were better able to manage their behaviour and had lower levels of hyperactivity.
He said the aim of inviting Federal MPs and Senators to early learning centres was to secure political commitment to increase access to quality early learning for all children from birth to the start of school.
The campaign is a national collaboration of 25 organisations including early childhood peak bodies, research institutions, early childhood service providers and community organisations.
Early Childhood CEO Samantha Page said while Australia has improved in attendance of four year olds in preschool/kindergarten programs in recent years, it is still in the bottom third of developed countries for attendance in early learning for three year olds and younger.
Mr Cherry said families faced too many barriers to accessing early learning and too many children were still missing out on the benefits of attending at least two days of early learning.
He said to improve access to quality affordable early learning, politicians needed to:
- Ensure all children had access to at least two days per week of early childhood education regardless of their parents’ workforce participation
- Develop a whole-of-government Early Years Strategy to ensure no children fall through the gaps
- Provide a long-term commitment to maintain current total levels of funding for Universal Access to kindergarten or preschool programs in the year before school
- Extend kindergarten/preschool funding for play-based programs for three year olds
- Improve quality of early education and care through ongoing support for the National Quality Agenda and workforce development initiatives
- Improve support for children experiencing disadvantage, especially those living in regional and remote areas and from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.