All levels of government have been talking about the need to keep the economy open and the important role that early childhood services plays in ensuring that parents can work.
What is lacking in this is the recognition of the importance of role of early childhood education in ensuring that the children in our care are given the best start by ensuring that teachers and other early childhood educators receive the appropriate pay and recognition that they deserve.
In a recent survey by the Front Project of over 1000 parents, 81% indicated that they think early childhood education important and that parents who have had their employment impacted by COVID-19 value early childhood education and care the most.
Childcare was one of the first sectors to have had government support, though the removal of both JobKeeper and the need for services to now charge parents fees has changed that horizon. It will mean that some families will reduce the number of days their children attend or perhaps they will withdraw completely. Of particular concern is that the cost of childcare may force many vulnerable families to withdraw their children even though the government has eased the activity test for Accessing Child Care Subsidy.
And many preschools which are state funded are also facing a financial crisis and many families have not returned. We know many preschools where some preschool rooms have been closed due to the low numbers. This has meant that some staff were retrenched or asked to take extended leave.
Some services have seen the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to get rid of ‘unwanted’ staff, to renege on previous wage and condition agreements. The union has been fielding a large number of calls from members asking what they can do in these situations.
The union is interested in finding out your stories. Is your centre thriving or struggling? Let us know what is happing to you and your service, email firstname.lastname@example.org