Eva Cox: Fund ECEC directly

Long-time champion for early childhood education and care has written in Women’s Agenda today with her practical approaches to “fixing” the childcare crisis. Well-worth a read.

The Government needs to completely re-jig the funding system so it set up conditions and costs, as happens with nursing homes. They need to control and fund services that are in appropriate locations, places for different age groups and locally appropriate flexible hours of operating. This should also include some levels of fee control, to allow break even or profit levels but not excessive returns. The market model has shown it cannot meet diverse consumer needs under the current system so this industry should be deemed a market failure in need of more government intervention.

My only point of disagreement with Eva would be that her plan doesn’t go far enough. The Early Years needs to be fully integrated in to the education system, entirely free-to-access and entirely funded by Government.

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Less tinkering needed, more consideration to a “root-and-branch” overhaul of ECEC

The current funding model – a John Howard special – removed the direct funding of services entirely from the system, replacing it with standardised fee subsidies for parents.

The rhetoric is straight economics 101: parents are the best judges of the quality of care so they will choose the right services. They are assumed to be able to compare prices, hours, quality, like choosing a Laundromat, and be ready to move the child if there is a better local offer. The model assumed a level playing field between consumer and provider but a perennial shortage of care in most areas put the power into the providers hands.

“Child’s play: Coalition childcare inquiry doesn’t go far enough”, Eva Cox (The Conversation)