Participation rates in 3 and 4 year old Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Australia lag global peers and parents pay among the highest out-of-pocket fees in the world. Children and parents miss out. Neither the value of ECEC and educators for early child development, or the considerable productivity benefits associated with supporting parents to work, are fully appreciated. Quality and consistency of ECEC is crucial, both in terms of both parents’ confidence and child development outcomes.
Providing free and high-quality ECEC to all Australian children would deliver benefits including:
■ Increasing the number of children attending ECEC and reducing the number of children arriving at school developmentally vulnerable;
■ Allowing parents to increase the number of paid hours of work; and
■ Reducing the financial pressure on families with young children. Financial implications - The provision of free high-quality ECEC will lift future productivity of children and participation of women in the labour market:
■ Future lift in productivity could add up to $2.15 billion to GDP by 2050.
■ Lift in female participation could lift GDP by up to $47.2 billion or 1.2 per cent by 2050.
This scheme will require an investment of approximately an extra $9.6 billion