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"No Time for Gloom" in ECE Teacher-Led Services

© ChildForum

There is no time for gloom in early childhood education. Demand for early childhood education places continues to grow and more new early childhood centres are opening.

A ChildForum survey carried out at the end of last year showed that uncertainty amongst early childhood centre and home-based operators was a big issue, and this reflected concerns around that time about the Government's ECE Taskforce recommendations and what else could be happening to funding on top of cutbacks already made. 

But early childhood services are nevertheless getting on with their business and have shown awareness that financial planning needs to take into account changing economic circumstances alongside government funding.

In regard to earlier cutbacks in funding, affected early childhood services have made adjustments and there have not been large scale closures.  There has been a definite trend toward employing cheaper and part-time staff over full-time staff in early childcare centres in particular.  Also, the supply of teachers has caught up with demand and teachers now have little bargaining power to ask for better working conditions and higher wages than the going rate of pay. 

The Government has been responsive to business concerns within the ECE sector (but so far not to concerns about quality apart from setting up two new working groups).  In regards to concerns about the amount of red tape, it cut the number of licences an early childhood service with more than 50 children must have, allowing centres to have up to three times the number of children. The government has held back from making improvements in regulation that would impact financially on service budgets such as reducing the number of infants per adult in the regulations or lifting the minimum percentage of qualified teachers from 50% to 80%. 

The ChildForum ECE Network suggests that the sooner the Government brings certainty to the funding situation, the better for both service operators and service participants. With the elimination of stress in not knowing what further changes in funding might be around the corner, the Government and ECE services will then be able to work better together on the quality of care and education.
Here are four quotes from ChildForum’s ‘State of the ECE Sector in 2011’ Survey
“The ECE Taskforce report has placed a good deal of anxiety on educators, families and business. We have had to work extremely hard to keep everyone positive and upbeat.” 
“To provide the best service for all, we need to be able to focus on providing great programmes that inspire and give children the best opportunities to achieve and have fun!”
“We are thriving with a full roll, small waiting list and very happy families.”
“We have a new business and we are growing in numbers steadily week by week.”

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