Early Childhood Education and Care

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1 Report to the Premier of Queensland, The Hon Anna Bligh MP Marilyn McMeniman Griffith University July 2008 final report

2 TERMS OF REFERENCE To provide the Queensland Government with independent advice on: The proposed integrated model for providing universal access to pre-preparatory (pre-prep) in Queensland The appropriate roles and responsibilities of agencies (including any machinery of government changes) necessary for the roll out of universal access to pre-prep in Queensland Workforce management issues associated with universal access to pre-prep Tactical stakeholder support on an as-needs basis, in the context of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) negotiations and early childhood matters. Advisor: Professor Marilyn McMeniman Griffith University Team Members: Carol Markie-Dadds Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) Dr Beverley Flúckiger Department of Education, Training and the Arts (DETA) David Mayocchi Griffith University This document does not represent government policy. The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet) 2008 The Queensland Government supports and encourages the dissemination of information. However copyright protects this document. The State of Queensland has no objection to this material being reproduced, made available online or electronically but only if the authors are recognised and the material remains unaltered. Copyright enquiries about this publication should be directed to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, by to or in writing to PO Box 15185, City East QLD (i)

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Terms of reference... (i) Introduction...1 Term of reference Recommendations...10 Term of reference Recommendations...16 Term of reference Recommendations...25 References...26 Appendix Appendix Appendix Appendix Appendix final report (ii)

4 INTRODUCTION In preparation for the provision of the report to the Premier on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), a program of consultations and site visits was undertaken with a number of key stakeholders and interstate government departments. This program, including the visits to a number of ECEC centres in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, is detailed in Appendix 1. Evidence from the consultations and site visits supported national and international research findings of a strong causal relationship between quality early childhood experiences and lifelong social, health and economic benefits. Investment in the early years is seen to be the most effective way of preventing the cumulative deficit associated with poor quality early childhood experiences. Two widely-cited, international studies provide persuasive evidence of the longterm, beneficial effects of a quality preschool environment: the longitudinal High/Scope Perry preschool study in the United States (Schweinhart, 2005) and the Effective Provision of Preschool Education (EPPE) project in the United Kingdom (Sylva et al, 2003). A growing and comprehensive evidence base supports the finding that the early years are instrumental in lifelong learning and well-being, and, most importantly, that learning begins at birth. This evidence draws on research from neuroscience, developmental psychology, social sciences, anthropology, epidemiology and other disciplines to demonstrate the positive benefits of early learning on brain and child development, learning, behaviour, and health throughout all stages of life (McCain and Mustard, 1999; 2002). From an economic perspective, researchers conclude that the best way to improve the workforce of the 21st century is to invest in early education to ensure that even the most disadvantaged children have the opportunity to succeed alongside their more advantaged peers (Heckman and Masterov, 2004). Work in Queensland by Homel and others (2006) highlights the benefits of prevention and early support in relation to child development, parenting, community support and education. A quality early learning experience The following characteristics of centre-based early education and care programs are identified by early childhood researchers at the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child (2007) as essential to the provision of a quality early learning experience for 3½ - 4½ year olds: qualified early childhood teachers a language rich environment age-appropriate, play-based curricula tailored to the individual needs of each child small class sizes (optimal is less than 16 but no more than 24) and high adult-to-child ratios (optimal is 1:8 but no more than 1:12) stimulating materials in a safe physical setting warm responsive interactions between staff and children a consistent level of child attendance. 1

5 Recent Australian Government initiatives The Education Budget statement released by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 13 May announced a national early childhood reform agenda to provide high-quality, accessible and affordable early childhood education and care. Funding initiatives include: $533.5 million to provide universal access to a quality early childhood education program for all Australian children by This program would be delivered by degree qualified early childhood teachers for 15 hours per week, 40 weeks per year, and would be available to all children in the year before they commence formal schooling. $22.2 million to strengthen accreditation standards and introduce a quality A-E rating system to drive continuous improvements in quality child care and preschool. $1.6 billion to increase the rate and frequency of the Child Care Tax Rebate payment to parents. $15.9 million over four years to roll-out the Australian Early Development Index, providing a national census of school readiness of Australian children entering their first year of formal schooling in $2.5 million in to develop a National Early Years Learning Framework that will describe the capabilities that demonstrate the continuum of development for very young people, and provide consistent requirements for the delivery of high quality programs across sectors and jurisdictions. $126.6 million to build a well-skilled and capable early childhood workforce, with 1500 new university places for early childhood teachers, removal of TAFE fees for child care diploma and advanced diploma courses, and HECS remission for early childhood teachers working in regional and highdisadvantage areas. $114.5 million to establish an additional 260 child care and early learning centres (including 6 autism-specific centres) in areas of need. final report 2

6 In addition to the Budget statement, the COAG Agenda papers ( 22 May, 2008) commit recurrent funding of $450 million to be distributed to the States and Territories from 2013 through a Specific Purpose Payment (SPP) to provide continuing funding for universal access to pre-prep. Queensland s pro rata funding from this amount is expected to be $90 million annually (Department of Communities, June 2008). With the exception of the recurrent funding of $450 million, these Budget changes take effect from July 2008 and will support the provision of early education programs within existing approved child care services including long day care. Families accessing these services may be eligible for two types of payments to assist with the cost of child care for long day care, family day care, occasional care, outside school hours care, vacation care and registered care: (i) Child Care Benefit (CCB) and (ii) Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR). As a result of the changes, stand-alone pre-prep programs offered by the Crèche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland (C&K) or other notfor-profit organisations such as non-state schools, may not be as financially attractive to parents. Parents will now be able to claim only $6-$10 per week at a stand-alone pre-prep program, whereas families accessing pre-prep programs embedded in a long day care model will be eligible for the 50% CCTR and, depending on their income, may also receive CCB (income less than $126,000 per annum). Table 1 on the following page summarises current fees payable in Queensland and the different funding outcomes for pre-prep services funded by the Australian Government. 3

7 Table 1. Funding outcomes for pre-prep services resulting from Australian Government funding initiatives. Current child care and kindergarten fees in Queensland Kindergarten C&K Kindy Plus Long Day Care (LDC) Type of care Registered Approved Approved Eligible for CCB Yes, regardless of income level Yes, if income is less than $126,000 Yes, if income is less than $126,000 Eligible for CCTR No Yes Yes Fee charged $19 per day* $42 per day* $60 per day CCB payable CCTR payable Out of pocket expenses Low Income (< $36,573) Mid Income ($75,000) High Income (> $126,000) $3.49 ($0.581 per hour for 6 hours/day) Nil $15.51 for 6 hours of ECEC $15.51 for 6 hours of ECEC $15.51 for 6 hours of ECEC Up to $3.47 per hour for 9 hours/day 50% of net out of pocket expenses $5.38 for 9 hours of ECEC $12.05 for 9 hours of ECEC $21.00 for 9 hours of ECEC * Current fee arrangements reflect State Government kindergarten subsidy paid to community kindergartens. Source: Australian Government, Family Assistance Office June Up to $3.47 per hour for 10 hours/ day 50% of net out of pocket expenses $12.65 for up to 10 hours of ECEC $20.00 for up to 10 hours of ECEC $30.00 for up to 10 hours of ECEC The fees charged by long day care centres vary considerably across centres and locations. Fees at ABC Learning Centres are approximately $62 a day, $2 below the May 2008 Federal Budget estimate of $64 a day for long day care (www.news.com.au). Current fees at community kindergartens are also variable. A typical daily fee for pre-prep is $19 (Salisbury C&K, Brisbane). Recently, however, a number of C&K centres have extended their hours and provide care for up to 3 hours after the pre-prep program. Recent Queensland initiatives At a State level, the Queensland Government has detailed its Early Years initiatives in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Reform Agenda paper Queensland s Plan to Address Early Childhood Education and Care Reforms. These initiatives include: improving ante-natal care strengthening health, development and learning from birth to 5 years enhancing the provision of (ECEC) services Early Years Workforce an Indigenous pre-prep program Bound for Success. The Bound for Success program is described in greater detail under Term of reference 3. 4 final report

8 5 TERM OF REFERENCE 1 Advice on the proposed integrated model for providing universal access to pre-prep in Queensland The current Queensland context In 2007, Queensland introduced a full time preparatory (Prep) year of education prior to Year 1 for children aged 4½ - 5½ years of age. Prep replaced the previous part-time provision of preschool (which ceased at the end of 2006) and also raised the minimum starting age for Year 1 from 5 years to 5½ years of age. Data is not yet available to assess the impact of the Prep year on the participation of 3½ - 4½ year olds in centre-based early education and care. Current data, however, indicate that only about 30% of 3½ - 4½ year olds in Queensland access a quality early education program delivered by a qualified teacher for 11 to 16½ hours per week through the Department of Education Community Kindergarten Assistance Scheme (DECKAS), and to a lesser extent through the Indigenous pre-prep (Bound for Success) program. The 2005 data for child care in Queensland prior to the introduction of Prep revealed that 42.9% of 3-4 year olds attended a long day care centre (ABS Child Care Australia). Approximately 7.5% of Queensland children accessed family day care and a further 17.1% of children accessed informal care only (e.g. grandparents, relative, or other person). In sum, the data suggest that the majority of Queensland s 3-4 year olds access centre-based education and care services. As at April 2008, there were 2405 centre-based services licensed to provide child care in Queensland. The great majority (83%) of long day care centres in Queensland are operated by commercial providers. Of the 1171 commercial providers in Queensland, ABC Developmental Learning account for 377 or 32% of the centres. Table 2. Number of licensed centre-based child care services in Queensland. Centre based service Long day care centres Kindergarten 1 Limited Hours Care Outside School Hours Care Provider Commercial Community Government Non-government Totals Source: Office for Children, Department of Communities, Queensland (April 2008). Additional demographic information relating to Queensland s population of 3½ - 4½ year olds, child care shortage (3½ - 4½ yr olds) and SIEFA disadvantage index is attached in Appendix 2. Also included are maps on each of these populations specific to the Greater Brisbane Area. The maps indicate quite clearly areas of socio-economic and infrastructure need. In addition, the maps provide information relating to those areas with a current surplus of child care places. Comparison with other Australian jurisdictions There is a wide variation in the preschool/pre-prep arrangements across Australia in respect to terminology, definitions, providers and regulation. This makes comparison of preschool provision across different jurisdictions quite complex. In general, however, a preschool program is targeted at 4 year old children and provided in the year before they start school (two years prior to Year 1). A summary of provision for this age group is presented in the following table. 1 In Queensland, kindergarten is used to describe a centre-based facility that provides early education programs, delivered by qualified teachers, to children aged from three years up to compulsory school age. These centres are usually open only during school term between the hours of 9am and 3pm.

9 Table 3. Pre-Prep provision in other Australian jurisdictions. State Name of Program Average Hours Attendance per Week Estimated Attendance (% of 4 year olds) Estimated Attendance (number of 4 year olds) Provider NSW Preschool % 54,181 Department of Education and Training & Department of Community Services Vic Kindergarten % 59,453 Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (established 2007) SA Kindergarten % 16,320 Department of Education and Children s Services (established 1993) WA Kindergarten % 25,569 Department of Education and Training Tas Kindergarten % 5,994 Department of Education ACT Preschool % 3,378 Department of Education and Training NT Preschool % 2,838 Department of Employment, Education and Training NOTE: Data relating to attendance are considerably distorted by double-counting in some instances, and underreporting in others. Data for Queensland (not included in this Table) are unreliable due to the full introduction of Prep by Source: Parliament of Australia, May Due to differences in data sources and definitions across States, data are not directly comparable. This report lists Queensland with a 103.1% attendance in the year before school. This is an anomaly, however, associated with the introduction of the Prep year across Queensland schools. Once data relating to school based Prep attendance and facilities are removed, it is estimated that Queensland has only 30% preschool provision in the kindergarten sector. Thus, there is a sense of urgency in increasing the capacity of the pre- Prep sector in Queensland if the goal of universal pre-prep is to be realised by This is a fortuitous time to be increasing capacity as new evidence-based approaches to ECEC are changing conceptions of where and how education and care might best be delivered in the early years. In those States and Territories where current pre-prep provision stands at 85% or more of the eligible cohort, the creation of integrated-services ECEC centres is now the prevailing policy position. These integrated-services centres are akin to what the Prime Minister described as Parent and Child Centres (PCCs) at Summit 2020 in April These child care centres, colocated with schools, would provide day care, preschool learning and health services for all children up to the age of five years, along with support programs for parents. PCCs represent the ECEC centres of the future and are likely to be rolled out in increasing numbers. Queensland is taking its first steps along this path with planning well-advanced for the establishment of four Early Years Centres. As these centres and additional ones are rolled out over the next 5 to 10 years, it will be useful to look at existing infrastructure in and around Early Childhood Development Units (ECDUs) and consider how these services might form part of an integrated-services PCC. The same planning should apply to the nationally funded autism centre in Queensland to determine how this centre might be embedded in the existing services infrastructure. To date, the Victorian Government has established 45 Children s Centres and committed funding for an additional 45 centres. The South Australian Government has announced that 20 Children s Centres will be created over the next few years with 7 already operational. These latter centres in South Australia have experienced increasing demand from parents for integrated pre-prep provision within their overall service provision. 6 final report

10 The model of best fit for Queensland: an integrated, cross-sectoral model for universal pre-prep provision by 2013 Given the data presented above as well as the Federal and State Government imperatives relating to ECEC, the indications are that Queensland should move to an integrated 2, cross-sectoral model to achieve universal access to pre-prep by An integrated model refers to the integration of 15 hours of quality early learning pre-prep experience for 3½ - 4½ year olds for 40 weeks per year within the existing programs of the multi-sector ECEC environment. This latter environment consists of four sectors: commercial, community-based, government and non-government. The integrated model embeds an education program within a child care service, including long day care or limited hours care settings. The cross-sectoral model would deliver pre-prep across all four sectors within Queensland s ECEC environment. The bringing together of the integrated and cross-sectoral model provides choice for parents and ensures that Queensland can close the challenging 70% pre-prep provision gap and solve any associated workforce issues by The term integrated is also used to describe ECEC centres that bring together a mix of services for young children from birth to eight years and their families, at one convenient location typically on or near a school site. These services generally include high quality early education and care, child health information, parenting and family support, playgroups and early assessment of children s learning needs and intervention programs. Advantages of the model Strategic and cost-effective use of community infrastructure and resources. Unlike other jurisdictions, Queensland s current ECEC provision is anchored predominantly in the commercial sector. Rather than duplicate infrastructure or potentially reduce the sustainability of existing ECEC services, the integrated, cross-sectoral model capitalises on existing facilities and resources, within both the community, government and commercial sectors. Notwithstanding this optimal use of all existing infrastructure, Queensland will still need significant funding for infrastructure in communities with few or no services, and the redressing of the uneven distribution of services in other communities. Alignment with the research evidence-base and international best practice. An integrated, cross-sectoral model promoting the integration of education and care services is consistent with the evidence-base and aligns well with international best practice. Quality centre-based pre-prep experiences delivered by qualified staff result in enhanced life outcomes for children, particularly disadvantaged children. Supporting parental choice. The integrated, cross-sectoral model allows all children access to a high quality educational program regardless of the setting. This approach maximises parent choice among providers. Based on the Victorian experience, a significant number of parents do not want or require care in addition to that provided by the pre-prep program and thus have no call on long day care. However, parents who require long day care should be confident their child is receiving the same quality education program available in a stand-alone pre-prep program. The integrated, crosssectoral model allows for continuation and expansion of stand-alone centres as well as integration of pre-prep within existing long day care services. 7

11 Maximising access to Commonwealth funding. Adoption of the model will maximise access for Queensland parents to the Commonwealth funding allocated to achieve universal access to pre-prep. The Commonwealth will provide two types of funding support: (i) payments to State governments to roll-out universal access to pre-prep; and (ii) payments to parents to assist with the cost of child care. Current Queensland regulation and funding for pre-prep The regulation, support and licensing of kindergartens and child care centres is undertaken by the Department of Communities. However, the distribution of funding and the monitoring of programs for pre-prep education in notfor-profit community kindergartens are outsourced by the Department of Education, Training and the Arts (DETA) to the Crèche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland (C&K). 1. Department of Education Community Kindergarten Assistance Scheme (DECKAS) Currently, the Queensland Government allocates $34 million per annum through DECKAS for the provision of pre-prep education programs by a registered teacher to children aged 3½ - 4½ (the year before Prep) in not-for-profit community kindergartens. Under DECKAS, C&K distributes funding on behalf of DETA and monitors the educational and operational standards of community kindergartens in accordance with a service agreement with DETA. This agreement expires on 30 June Governance - ECEC responsibilities be consolidated in one department along with authority to regulate standards and distribute funding directly to community kindergartens. Funding - all not-for-profit community kindergartens to be funded on a fixed amount per kindergarten in addition to a per child enrolled amount based on need. Operations encourage the establishment of new community kindergartens using a needs based planning resource allocation framework based on revised eligibility criteria. The report also flagged that revised governance arrangements should address the perceived conflict of interest of C&K in its role as regulator, service provider and distributor of funding to community kindergartens. This is an important recommendation as under the proposed integrated, cross-sectoral model, it would no longer be appropriate to outsource the regulation of pre-prep to C&K. Prior to April 2007, C&K had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Communities for C&K consultants to act as authorised officers under the Child Care Act and assess compliance etc. of centres for licensing purposes. Currently, however, C&K still regulates conditions for C&K affiliation and pre-prep provision under the terms of the MOU with DETA for DECKAS funding. The changes to DECKAS recommended in the Allen Consulting report are intended to achieve improved accessibility and quality of ECEC services in Queensland as well as enhance the government s capacity to direct investment toward areas experiencing disadvantage and market failure. In June 2007, DETA engaged Allen Consulting Group to review DECKAS. The consultant s final report (October, 2007) recommends changes to the governance, funding and operations of community kindergartens: final report 8

12 The adoption of an integrated, cross-sectoral model of pre-prep in Queensland will have significant implications for the existing kindergarten sector. As Queensland grows its pre-prep enrolment from 30% coverage delivered through kindergarten settings to universal access within integrated, cross-sectoral settings, existing kindergartens will face competition from a new range of pre-prep providers, including long day care settings and new integrated Early Years Centres. Kindergartens will need to respond to greater demand for places (as more parents seek 15 hours of pre-prep for their children) and greater competition from other providers (as quality education programs begin to be delivered by qualified teachers within the long day care sector). To contribute to the achievement of universal access and maximise the use of their existing infrastructure, kindergartens may need to re-work their operating models to maximise the enrolment of 3½ 4½ year olds for 15 hours per week. To ensure that the focus of the not-for-profit kindergarten sector remains on the achievement of universal access by 2013, and to provide additional planning certainty during this growth phase, transition funding arrangements may be needed. This funding could assist C&K and affiliated kindergartens to maximise enrolments and review their staffing and operating structures to ensure their long-term sustainability within the new cross-sectoral early childhood education landscape. 2. Bound for Success Pre-Prep initiative Because the Allen Consulting review was completed prior to the Rudd Government s election, the review does not consider the implications of a roll-out of universal access to pre-prep by This Rudd commitment, and the additional Commonwealth funding announced in the 2008 budget, has altered the early childhood education landscape in Queensland and brings additional challenges for the sector. In 2006, the Queensland Government committed $23.1 million over four years to fund the improvement and expansion of pre-prep services in Far North Queensland. This included capital funding to ensure that services were delivered in appropriate facilities. In Budget 2008, the Queensland Government delivered an additional $24.4 million over two years for the pre- Prep early learning program in 35 Indigenous communities. 9

13 RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 1.1: That Queensland adopt an integrated, cross-sectoral model of pre-prep provision which will include community-based kindergartens, commercial child care centres, government centres and non-government centres. Recommendation 1.2: That Queensland adopt a contractual funding model across the sectors that ensures access to a quality early learning experience with qualified teachers for all 3½ 4½ year olds, 15 hours a week for 40 weeks a year. Recommendation 1.3: That Queensland re-examine the regulation of pre-prep programs and funding for early learning programs within the context of the 2008 Review of the Child Care Act and the planning for universal access to pre-prep in Queensland by Recommendation 1.4: That Queensland adopt an integrated-services model for its planned Parent Child Centres (PCCs at federal level and Early Years Centres in Queensland) to incorporate maternal and child health, parenting programs, disability services, child care and pre-prep provision, and that these centres be located in areas of high need and co-located with schools as appropriate. Recommendation 1.5: That in the roll out of universal pre-prep, Queensland give priority to those areas with little or no pre-prep service provision. Recommendation 1.6: That Queensland work with the other States and Territories towards a common set of terms and definitions for early childhood education and care (See Appendix 3 for a draft set of ECEC terms and definitions based on current national and international usage). final report 10

14 TERM OF REFERENCE 2 Provision of independent advice on the appropriate roles and responsibilities of agencies (including any machinery of government changes) necessary for the roll out of universal access to pre-prep in Queensland Current Queensland context The health, development, education and well-being of young children in Queensland are currently supported by various government departments including Health, Communities, Disability Services and Education. Nongovernment organisations, local communities, volunteer care providers and the private sector also deliver services, sometimes in partnership with government departments. Pre-Prep programs for 3 ½ 4 ½ year old children are delivered in the main by the non-government sector. The Crèche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland (C&K) is funded by the Queensland Government through DECKAS to provide pre-prep programs. Programs for Indigenous children in some remote areas (Bound for Success) are managed by DETA, and a small number of non-state schools also offer kindergarten. Education Queensland currently provides early childhood development programs for children of pre-prep age with identified special needs, and their families, through Early Childhood Development Units (ECDUs) located on or near school sites. Disability Services Queensland also provides services to families with a child aged up to 6 years at risk of a significant development delay to help promote their child s developmental learning and inclusion in the local community. The regulation, support and licensing of kindergartens and child care centres is undertaken by the Department of Communities. This Department also procures a range of child and family support services, aimed at achieving good health and well-being for 3 ½ 4 ½ year olds. In addition, Queensland Health provides community child health services (including health checks and parenting programs) as well as operating a range of Children s Developmental Assessment Services. Other agencies with responsibility for children in Queensland include the Department of Child Safety and the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian. The Department of Child Safety is the lead agency for child protection and adoption services while the Commission promotes and protects the rights, interests and well-being of all Queenslanders under 18. The Commission operates independently of Queensland Government departments and agencies and reports directly to the Premier. Comparison with other jurisdictions information from State Government departments and ECEC Centres With the election of the Rudd Labor Government in November 2007, responsibility for child care at the national level shifted from the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to a new Office of within the Department for Education, 11

15 Employment and Workplace Relations. In addition, Maxine McKew - Member of Parliament (MP), was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education and Child Care. This shift avoids the dichotomisation of education and care and recognises that learning is a part of every child s development from birth. The alignment of care with education also reflects the importance that the new Australian Government places on investing in the early years and particularly in quality early learning programs. It is worth noting, however, that Australia s expenditure on pre-primary education is the lowest in the OECD, at 0.1 % of GDP, compared with an OECD average of 0.5%. With the exception of New South Wales, preschool education in Australia is within the Education portfolio. In New South Wales, the Office of Children s Services within the Department of Community Services co-ordinates education and care in the preschool years, although the Department of Education and Training operates 100 preschools located in state primary schools. In Victoria, responsibility for kindergarten provision (akin to pre-prep) has shifted from the Department of Human Services to the new Department of Education and Early Childhood Development formed in 2007 with two Ministers: the Minister for Education and the Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development. An Office of Children and Early Childhood Development within this new department has a broad agenda, supporting the health, development and learning of Victoria s young children, including kindergarten, capital grants for new kindergartens and children s centres, maternal and child health services, primary school nursing, parenting services, early childhood intervention services, inclusion supports, support for Best Start local partnerships and planning, and the regulation and licensing of children s services. The office also employs a Child Health Advisor to provide specialist medical advice to guide strategic policy innovation and improve outcomes for children across Victoria. final report 12

16 In South Australia, the Department of Education and Children s Services (DECS, established in 1993) is responsible to the Minister for Education and Children s Services who is supported by the Minister Assisting in Early Childhood Development. The department has responsibility for ensuring the provision of children s services and public education throughout the State. It administers the Children s Services Act 1985 and the Education Act 1972, among others. An interministerial council meets regularly to ensure coordination across the relevant portfolios. Within DECS, the Office of Early Childhood and Statewide Services leads and coordinates policy development, programs and services in collaboration with schools and early childhood services, families, districts and key partners. The key role of this office is the provision of preschool services, administration of Family Day Care, sponsorship of Outside School Hours Care programs, and the establishment and enforcement of minimum standards for all types of child care. It is responsible for learning improvement and support services and the early years curriculum. In addition, it provides a range of services to meet the needs of families including services to support children s health and wellbeing along with parenting programs. Feedback from departmental officers in Victoria, South Australia and NSW regarding the governance arrangements was of particular note. Officers in Victoria and South Australia reported a symbolic benefit of bringing together all early childhood programs under one department. Some departmental staff cautioned that these changes are not sufficient in themselves to bring improved integration and service delivery and that strong vision and leadership are necessary to ensure benefits are delivered from the portfolio changes. Currently, South Australia has a public consultation process underway with the intent of creating a seamless Birth through Age 17 years Education and Early Childhood Development System represented by a single piece of legislation. The proposed Act would replace the current Children s Services Act 1985 and Education Act In New South Wales, responsibility for all children s education and care services (0-6 years) sits with an Office of Children s Services, located within the Department of Community Services. Administratively, the integration of regulation, licensing and early learning provision within a single office was considered the critical element in the successful policy development, coordination and delivery of ECEC services. A new model of governance for Queensland for children and early learning Consistent with the evidence-based governance models used at the federal level and interstate, the establishment of an Office for Children and Early Learning is opportune. Pre-Prep will form an important component of the new early education and care landscape in Queensland, and a new office that has responsibility for children in the early years would be a positive initiative. The office would be wellplaced to ensure that early education and care are integrated and constitute a continuum for children from 0-4½ years of age. Such an office would also be in a position to strategically plan and coordinate the roll-out of universal access to the integrated, cross-sectoral provision of pre-prep in Queensland and support Queensland s contribution to the national ECEC agenda. The early years are about early learning, with an emphasis on learning as a continuing process occurring from birth and continuing throughout life. As is the case for the majority of other Australian jurisdictions, Education is considered the most appropriate portfolio to hold responsibility for early learning. 13

17 Given the central role that schools play in the lives of families with schoolage children, it is not surprising that interstate, national and international jurisdictions are moving to the co-location and/or integration of ECEC centres and other health, parenting and family support services on or near school sites. With its extensive planning and infrastructure programs round learning and development, the Education portfolio is well-placed to inform state-wide planning and development of the range of ECEC services on school sites. Through DECKAS, the Education portfolio is responsible for the management of the pre-prep program currently reaching about 30% of the eligible cohort. The recent review of DECKAS by Allen Consulting Group (to be considered by Cabinet) recommends changes to the governance of community kindergartens. Essentially the consultants recommend that ECEC responsibilities be consolidated in one department together with authority to regulate standards and distribute funding directly to community kindergartens. The creation of an Office for Children and Early Learning is consistent with this recommendation. Stakeholders who participated in the DECKAS Review favoured consolidation of ECEC responsibilities within the Education portfolio. centres or refurbish existing centres to provide another 260 child care and early learning Australia-wide. By leveraging these funds, the Queensland Government could transform existing ECDU facilities into the next tranche of state-of-the-art integrated-services Early Years Centres on or near school sites which combine education, care, health, parenting and other family support programs. The retention of ECDUs by the Education portfolio will formalise the case management and coordination role of Education Queensland in providing services and programs for children with a disability from 0-6 years. In remote areas and areas of market failure, schools may represent the most appropriate alternate provider of children s services including pre-prep. The Bound for Success pre-prep initiative is an example of the State government (through DETA) assuming responsibility for service provision in areas where no other providers are able to establish viable services. Education Queensland currently has responsibility for Early Childhood Development Units (ECDUs) and provides services to children with a disability aged 0-6 years. The integration of ECEC responsibilities with Education may facilitate the expansion of some existing ECDUs into integrated Early Years Centres that are able to be used from 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday for 48 weeks or more a year. This proposed expansion is timely as the Australian Government has committed capital funding to establish new child care final report 14

18 Retaining responsibility for ECDUs within Education also makes provision for teachers and other early childhood professionals to be embedded within a professional network, provides a continuum of ECEC for children with special needs from birth to at least age 12 years (i.e. end of primary school), maximises opportunities for inclusive education and maximises the government s access to special education teachers. From a workforce perspective, positioning ECEC within Education gives comparable professional recognition to teachers of early years, middle years and senior years. However, as noted in the following section, a number of legislative amendments would be required to ensure all teachers are eligible for full registration and are able to meet continuing professional learning requirements for continuing registration regardless of their work context. Moreover, Education has a well-established regional and district structure to support outreach and professional support for teachers as well as other ECEC workers in isolated settings (e.g. family day care providers). Education Queensland has an extensive range of teaching and learning resources that could be made available to all ECEC settings where teachers are providing early learning programs. There is also an extensive virtual learning network that could provide a service for isolated children and teachers. Discussions with relevant Queensland Ministers and the Australian Government It is clear after discussions with relevant Queensland and Australian Government portfolios, that there are a number of options for the roll-out of universal access to pre-prep in Queensland and related governance issues. 15

19 final report Option 1 is to establish an Office for Children and Early Learning within DETA which would focus on pre-prep and include: pre-prep coordination, regulation, funding and curriculum in ECEC settings coordination of pre-prep professional support and learning Early Childhood Development Units (ECDUs) policy development and research. This would position the office in a portfolio where responsibility for learning, curriculum and teacher registration principally reside, with strong conduits to existing services especially those in the Communities and Health portfolios. Under this option, there would be no relocation of services between portfolios. There would, however, be movement within the Education portfolio where Early Childhood development programs and services prior to Prep including DECKAS, and the Early Childhood Development Units (ECDUs), would move to the new Office. Option 2 is to proceed with a whole-of-government Program Management approach which is the approach favoured by the Department of Communities. Option 3 is to establish an Office for Children and Early Learning as a Statutory Authority that would bring together pre-prep (as in Option 1), Childcare and Early Years Centres (PCCs) and associated services. The office would buy-in/outsource services in arrangements with other portfolios such as Communities, Education and Health. The office would bring together child care and education and have responsibility for ECEC policy development, coordination of programs and regulation of these services and be responsible for early learning and care of children from birth to 4½ years of age. This option is a long-term option and is arguably the best fit for the evidence base in early learning and the specific evidence that underscores the critical role of prevention and intervention from the earliest age of at-risk children, and the role that multidisciplinary specialists including qualified ECEC teachers play in this prevention and intervention. In sum, all of these options could achieve the objective of universal access to pre-prep in Queensland. Option 1 is likely to be a transition model as, subsequent to the rollout of universal access to pre-prep and as other States are already finding, learning programs with qualified teachers for 2½ 3½ year olds may be required in the future. Option 2 requires little change to existing arrangements other than adding a superordinate management role to a central agency which reports to Premiers. Option 3 is the creation of an office with the powers and functions to fully integrate, coordinate and regulate early learning and care programs for children from birth to 4½ years of age. Importantly, this office would include the integrated-services Early Years Centres (PCCs), the centres of the future. This model would require ideally the powers of a Statutory Authority, reporting as do a number of other authorities directly to the Premier. The model is represented diagrammatically in Appendix 4. RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 2.1 That Queensland establish an Office for Children and Early Learning. 16

20 TERM OF REFERENCE 3 Provision of independent advice on workforce management issues associated with universal access to pre-prep. Key workforce issues A skilled and stable workforce is essential for the delivery of a quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) program. The integrated, crosssectoral model proposed for Queensland requires programs to be delivered by a qualified teacher within existing and prospective early childhood service models. This creates a specific set of workforce issues related to: recruitment and skilling of staff alignment of awards, working conditions and appropriate resources management and delivery of a 15 hour a week program provision of continuing opportunities for professional learning. Current pre-prep provision in Queensland Queensland has substantially fewer teachers in the current early childhood workforce than will be required to deliver universal access to a pre-prep program. Currently, community kindergartens have pre-prep programs delivered by qualified teachers. To receive DECKAS funding, community kindergartens are required to be affiliated with Crèche & Kindergarten Association of Queensland (C&K) who, in turn, require programs to be delivered by a qualified teacher. These teachers are supported by C&K consultants who provide professional support services. It is estimated that the community kindergarten sector has capacity for approximately 30% of the relevant age cohort. Teaching qualifications for staff in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector are not legislated in the Queensland Child Care Act The Queensland Child Care Regulations 2003 stipulate group leaders in child care must have a minimum of a 2 year qualification in early childhood or child care studies. It is estimated that within the long day care sector approximately 8% of staff hold a Bachelor degree or postgraduate qualifications, not necessarily in education, and many centre directors do not have a degree or teaching qualification (Community Services Ministers Advisory Council, 2006). Given that 42.9% of 3½ - 4½ year olds are currently in long day care centres, Queensland authorities need to be aware that directors in these centres may not have teaching qualifications. This may have implications for the supervision of qualified teachers in the pre-prep program. 17

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