Children and families using child care in Ballarat and region this year will feel the benefit of Australian Government reforms which deliver a national framework for early childhood education aimed at ensuring better quality care.
Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, said that more than 7300 children in Ballarat and region are now receiving better quality child care since the introduction of the Government’s National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education and Care.
“Because of our reforms, every centre across Australia, including the 73 centres in this region, are now able to provide better care to a higher standard for our kids,” Ms King said.
“We know that the first five years of a child’s life is crucial to their development and we are absolutely committed to lifting the quality of child care to give children the best start in life.
“Our Government is backing the NQF with a record $23.1 billion investment in early childhood education and care; more than triple that of the former Coalition government in its last four years in office.”
Ms King said the Federal Government has worked with the states and territories to deliver the NQF to lift standards, keep child care affordable, cut red tape for operators and make child care a career choice for talented early childhood educators.
The NQF requires all providers to improve services and provide families with better information. It includes:
• Improved educator to child ratios, so that each child gets the individual care and attention that they need;
• Higher educator qualifications to equip staff to provide the kind of activities that help children learn and develop; and
• More information for parents through a transparent ratings system.
Ms King said the Government has helped make child care more affordable and this is helping drive growth in the number of families using child care.
“We’ve increased the Child Care Rebate from 30 to 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs and increased the cap from the Coalition’s $4,354 per child per year to $7,500 per child per year now,” Ms King said.
“I’m pleased that around 4900 families in this region have benefited from our increase in child care assistance, delivering $17.9 million to help parents with the cost of child care.”
The NQF is being implemented gradually until 2020 to ensure that services have enough time to adjust to the new requirements and to keep costs low.