We are in a time when more Australians understand and appreciate the value of quality early learning than ever before.

Last week The Front Project team reflected on the year that we are about to leave behind and – this may be surprising to some – we agreed that despite the challenges, 2020 delivered a lot to celebrate for early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Australia.

Parents who were required to stay home with their children deepened their appreciation for local ECEC services, specifically acknowledging the education and wellbeing support that early learning offers children and the stability it creates for families.

“We have been helping her at home but the quality of the learning for her will not have been as good as if she was there at the centre.”

“Caring for children at home meant we could not actively work from home or study.”

Parents and carers of young children.

Business leaders brought renewed attention to the broader role that ECEC plays in supporting social cohesion and national prosperity.

“There’s a big economic role that it [ECEC] plays as a sector… We will see these short term indicators come through and the data around income and people struggling but it is the longer term impacts that will then leave if people aren’t accessing early childhood education.”

Jarrod Ball, Chief Economist at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

When industries across Australia were struggling, government leaders committed to supporting ECEC because they came to understand that children’s futures depend on it, working families rely on it and businesses cannot operate without it.

“These [ECEC] services are vital for so many parents so they can provide for their family, and children need as much familiarity and continuity as we can help provide… It [ECEC Relief Package] means building a bridge for these valuable services to the other side of this virus so they can continue to play their valuable role in our workforce and education systems and so Australia can bounce back strongly.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Front Project committed early in the year to supporting ECEC through the inevitable challenges ahead, activating our expertise in research, policy and business relations to make sure Australian families could continue accessing early learning services throughout the year disrupted by COVID-19.

We did not accomplish the things that we planned at the beginning of the year.

We accomplished so much more.

We published seven new resources that lifted the voices of early childhood professionals, parents and carers and their children into the public domain; and informed policy changes that kept Australia’s early learning sector operational throughout the year.

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We expanded our network of leaders in early childhood who we work with to create lasting, systemic change.

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We transformed our programs that improve quality in the early childhood workforce so everyone working in ECEC is equipped to deliver the type of education and support that different children and families need.

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I am extremely proud of The Front Project’s contributions to strengthening early learning this year and of the hard work and commitment from everyone in our team to improving outcomes for children and families.

I am also deeply proud and thankful to all of the teachers, educators and teams behind our early learning services, and the families and children who access these services, for their generosity in sharing their own experiences and insights to inform our work this year. They have shown immense resilience, flexibility, optimism and dedication to seeing our early learning system become the best it can be.

We already have plans underway to connect with even more people next year to ensure that Australia’s early learning sector has the right support to deliver for every child, in every family, in every postcode and in whatever circumstances we face.

"My brother thinks it [COVID-19] won’t ever go away. I think it will go away.

At least we still get to play with our toys, and Christmas will happen."

Five-year-old child.

Thank you for your continued support and I wish you a safe and restful end to the year.

Kind Regards,
Jane Hunt