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  • Writer's pictureDr Anne Aly

A word from The Minister for Early Childhood Education

One of the key things we can do to help Australian children thrive, and something the Albanese Government has already taken important steps to achieve, is to improve access to early childhood education and care.


Children who participate in high-quality early learning programs have better educational outcomes, including improved literacy and numeracy skills, greater school retention and higher graduation rates.


They are also more likely to find employment and earn higher incomes as adults.



Every child deserves the opportunity to become the best they can be, and this starts with early learning.


We know, 90 per cent of children’s brain development occurs in the first five years—providing the building blocks for things like self-regulation, problem solving, communication and self-esteem.


This is why it’s crucial we invest in our children over the early years, ensuring we get the foundations right to avoid more costly interventions later in life.


We know children who experience disadvantage in their early years are less likely to meet developmental milestones.


Children from disadvantaged backgrounds who start school developmentally vulnerable are also less likely to ‘catch up’ and unfortunately are less likely to reach their full education potential.


However, we can rectify this. Studies show that learning outcomes for children in Year 3 are significantly better among those that attended high-quality preschool, and this is more pronounced in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.


The benefits of attending high-quality early childhood education and care can be seen throughout a child’s life. It is literally life changing.


That is why I’m particularly proud of our initiatives to make early childhood education and care more affordable and accessible for around 1.26 million Australian families.


Our measures will make early childhood education and care more affordable, easing financial strain on households by reducing out-of-pocket costs while also better supporting families to increase their workforce participation should they wish to do so.


But perhaps most importantly, it will allow more children to engage more often with life-changing early learning opportunities.


Our landmark reform will also provide a base level of 36 hours per fortnight of subsidised early education for First Nations children.


These changes will benefit around 6600 First Nations families and represent a positive step in our efforts to Close the Gap.


Because a child’s education and career opportunities should not be dictated by where they are born or the colour of their skin.


Our Government is ensuring every Australian child with the best possible education opportunities, and that begins with enabling access to high-quality early childhood education and care during the crucial first five years of life.


 

Words: Dr Anne Aly

Anne is the Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth in the Albanese ministry.


 

Originally published in Connected Caregiving Summer 2023

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