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The terrifying reality of American “daycare”

Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do—and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five—spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares. In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian.

Jonathan Cohn, New Republic (15/4/2013)

Equal parts fascinating and horrifying, this lengthy and in-depth article on the shocking inadequacies of the American system of early childhood care and education is recommended reading for anyone working in the ECEC field. This article serves as the counter-balance to any push for less regulation and lower standards in Australia.

Well worth putting aside half an hour and reading.

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National Children’s Commissioner to focus on hearing the voices of children

“We must learn from the mistakes of the past, when children’s voices were ignored with devastating consequences,” [Megan Mitchell, Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner] said at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will, I am sure, uncover stories where children’s voices were unheard, and even when heard, were deliberately not taken into account.

“We need to make sure our attitudes and our systems respect the child’s voice. This is one of the essential ways that we can help children to be safe, to realise their potential, and to live full and happy lives.”
Rachel Browne, SMH (15/4/2013)

The importance of listening to the voices of children is an integral part of our work with children in the early childhood education sector, and it is wonderful to hear that this will also be a focus for the Children’s Commissioner.

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Priorities for Australia’s new Children’s Commissioner

On her first day at the Australian Human Rights Commission, the incoming National Children’s Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell, has said she would like children’s voices to feature more prominently in the issues that affect them.

“I want to see governments pay greater attention to the needs of children, including through listening directly to their aspirations. I want to ensure that their efforts are focused on creating independence, instilling confidence, ensuring children’s safety and focusing on the most vulnerable and marginalised,” said Commissioner Mitchell.

“Engaging with children and child advocates around the country to hear what children have to say and what they see as important for their futures, will be one of the first things I would like to do,” said Commissioner Mitchell.

humanrights.gov.au (26/3/2013)

It will be very interesting to see where this national focus on children’s rights and issues will go. Megan Mitchell is a fantastic choice as Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner, and will strongly champion the rights and voices of children.

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Megan Mitchell appointed as Australia’s first National Commissioner for Children’s Rights

On Monday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that Ms Mitchell would ”ensure that the voices of young people are heard by government”.

Addressing the PM and children at a Canberra primary school, Ms Mitchell said the role was ”something the community has been calling for for some time”.

Ms Mitchell said that until now there had been no one person that could ”focus solely on the needs of children and their rights and their interests and the laws and policies and services that effect them”.

Judith Ireland, SMH (25/2/13)

The appointment of Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner is a great step towards having a truly national and holistic focus on children’s rights.