Lisa Bryant takes a look at the economics of early childhood education in NSW and considers how the coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity for a rethink of funding mechanisms.
COVID-19 may not have delivered wage rises for early childhood teachers bUt it has delivered something dear to most teachers’ hearts: free early education and care for children at long day care services and free preschool for three and four year old children in NSW.
So the multimillion-dollar question is: How do we ensure this is retained in the post COVID world? The answer is obvious. Parents!
It’s clear Australia will be in a recession for a while. So any plan for young children to receive an early education free of charge (much as children in state primary schools do) will be needed to help parents and their tighter budgets.
It also costs less for the federal government to fund services this way.
Breaking it down
The federal government said it would pay an estimated $600 million to the wider early education and care sector (long day care centres, family day care services and out-of-school-hours care centres) for the first three months of COVID-19 arrangements. It has also allocated money for supplementary grants.
JobKeeper payments to the education and care sector are expected to cost $1 billion. That’s a lot of money but still less than the $2.2 billion the government would have paid under previous arrangements.