The Front Project’s Pre-Budget Submission states our views and recommendations around early childhood education and care (ECEC) for Government to prioritise in the 2021–22 Federal Budget.

By building on the Child Care Subsidy (CCS), investigating a system of price controls and guaranteeing that benefits stay with families the Government can deliver a Back to Work Boost. This boost will support parents to return to work after they have a child, increasing flexibility and choice.

In the Submission, we make seven recommendations:

Recommendation 1: 

Optimise the CCS, lifting the CCS rate to 95 per cent for low-income households and tapering down to 30 per cent, to ensure additional subsidies make ECEC more affordable and reduce disincentives to work for families.

Recommendation 2:

Commission the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate ECEC pricing and the market, to make recommendations for developing robust price control measures to ensure ECEC remains affordable for Australian families.

Recommendation 3:

Update the Child Care Finder website with timely information on hourly rate caps, daily costs and quality of services, to permit families to make informed decisions.

Recommendation 4:

Fund a new National Partnership for universal access to preschool with a five-year duration, to meet the needs and expectations that Australian families have around quality early learning.

Recommendation 5: 

Retain and extend existing policies that support families who are impacted by external shocks (for example, COVID-19 or natural disasters) to access ECEC, including the Additional Child Care Subsidy and transition payments for service providers.

Recommendation 6: 

Fund support models of ECEC for children living with significant family stress and social disadvantage through the Inclusion Support Program (ISP) – Inclusion Development Fund Innovative Solutions Stream.

Recommendation 7: 

Fund and implement the action plan underpinning the new National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy to be delivered in mid-2021, to ensure a supply of quality ECEC professionals to the workforce.

These recommendations show where we have the most opportunity to build on our early learning system so more families can access high-quality, sustainable education and care in a system that is efficient, equitable and delivers the best outcomes for children.

The Front Project submitted our Pre-Budget Submission on 29 January 2021.