Early learning centres in fight for survival
The Early Childhood Council is warning that children in community and privately owned early learning centres risk missing out as relief efforts keep missing the target.
Fully government funded kindergartens operate as normal - while early learning centres face an ongoing battle to keep the doors open. Already, several centres have closed, and the ECC expects more to follow as the economic crisis bites.
“We’re at the point where centres, crucial for children’s development and the communities they’re part of, might not be there. The economic hits keep coming and parents who choose to support community and private centres may be forced to find their child a new one,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.
The hits to the balance sheet include:
- 40% of surveyed ECC members report difficulty attracting children and parents back after lockdowns
- 80% of surveyed members were shut out of the Wage Subsidy extension by the 40% revenue drop rule, or had to pay it back for receiving pandemic insurance many weeks or months later
- 45% of those surveyed said teacher wage increases announced in the last budget weren’t covered by government subsidies, leaving centres to fund it out of their own pockets
- Limited success rate of accessing Urgent Response Fund by early learning providers
“In the short term, it’s survival. In the long term, we must fix the broken funding model. If the current system can’t direct extra funds being made available to where they’re needed most, it’s time for a new one, said Mr Reynolds.
The Early Childhood Council has long advocated a full early learning funding review so the sector can get better outcomes for children, increase transparency and make the system fairer for everyone.