Child Care Centres and early childhood education providers across Ballarat and region stand to benefit from the announcement today of reforms aimed at offsetting the cost of employing higher qualified staff.
Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, said the reforms come in an announcement by the Gillard Government of an investment of $300 million over two years to boost the quality of early childhood education and support workplace reform.
Called the Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF), the investment will to help support the implementation of the Government’s National Quality Framework (NQF) in child care and early childhood education.
“Grants will be provided to services in order to offset the cost of employing a higher qualified workforce and ensure quality education and care is being delivered while maintaining affordability for parents,” Ms King said.
“I have spoken to many parents and child care providers across the region about this and listened to them. I am sure these initiatives will be welcomed,” Ms King said.
“A new Pay Equity Unit will also be established in the Fair Work Commission, with an initial focus on the early childhood education and care sector.”
The NQF requires early childhood education services to employ staff with higher education qualifications by 2014.
“We know that quality early childhood education and care is dependent on having a qualified and professional workforce,” Ms King said.
“We are pleased to introduce this fund to provide grants to help attract and retain qualified staff.”
To qualify for grants, Child Care Benefit approved long day care providers must be able to demonstrate a commitment to quality outcomes for children, including how their services will meet the NQF qualification requirements.
Eligible services will receive grants to promote productivity and increase wages for employees with a Certificate III by $3 per hour from July 1. There will also be proportional increases for staff across the existing classification scale.
“This wage increase for early childhood educators will assist in raising the professional status for our hard working and dedicated early childhood educators,” Ms King said.
Providers will also need to commit to ongoing affordability for families by agreeing to restrain fee rises to reflect only actual increases in operational costs. This will ensure improved fee transparency for families, including the level of financial assistance provided by the Gillard Government through the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.
“We know it gives children comfort as well as parents’ peace of mind when a child has the chance to form an ongoing bond with their early childhood educator.”
The new Pay Equity Unit will undertake research and data collection to inform matters related to pay equity under the Fair Work Act.
“This initiative follows the workplace reforms in Social and Community Services and Aged Care sectors. The Government has achieved significant outcomes in respect to pay equity, but is committed to do more to try to close the gender gap, particularly in female dominated sectors such as child care.”
An advisory board will also be established to oversee the development and implementation of the EYQF and will include employee and employer representatives.
For more information on the EYQF visit: www.deewr.gov.au/earlyyearsqualityfund