I’m an early childhood educator. And today’s child care changes have left me, and educators Australia-wide extremely concerned about disadvantaged children.
The new child care subsidy leaves many families worse off on both ends of the spectrum, but disadvantaged families are being hurt the most by far. The number of subsidised hours for disadvantaged families has been drastically cut.
I’ve worked in childcare centres in both affluent and low socio-economic areas.
When I worked with children at risk, my colleagues and I were often the only members of the community who would see them regularly outside of their families.
In the old model these children were under our care two days a week, so we could really get to know every child and notice any changes in their well-being. Where necessary, we could escalate any concerns and work with families to ensure that no child was left behind.
The new child care subsidy has changed the minimum hours families can receive from 24 hours to 12 hours. In some cases families will receive none at all. This reduces access to child care for parents who have good reasons for why they don’t meet the Government’s criteria. Their children are no less deserving of quality early learning and excluding them will reinforce class divisions and pull our education system backward.