For many, 2021 has been a year of unmet expectations. We planned as if lockdowns and border closures were behind us and we would recommence our close connections with all who play a role in our work. Hindsight reveals that this was indeed optimistic thinking.
However, one expectation that has once again been upheld and exceeded is the dedication that we see from the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.
'We think childcare is way undervalued ... we love what the centre has done for our kids.'
– Father of four-year-old, regional area.
The pandemic has continued to impact ECEC this year, especially in regions with higher COVID-19 spread. The sector has navigated constant changes in health and safety protocols, intermittent closures to abide by isolation rules and unsteady laws about who can access ECEC depending on families’ experiences of disadvantage or whether parents or carers are essential workers or vaccinated.
Juggling all of this while minimising disruption for children and families is an enormous task for ECEC professionals to add to an already challenging workload.
Despite this, they have maintained their commitment to children and families through this second year of the pandemic.
At the Front Project, we applaud and celebrate this. And in response, we commit to continually iterating and refining our activities to ensure that they serve both emerging and persistent needs of the sector. Some activities that aim to do this that I am particularly proud of this year include:
Through this work and the work of many others aiming to make a difference in children’s lives, we are certainly having an impact.
Last year, more Australians began to understand and appreciate the value of quality early learning than ever before.
This year, they paid closer attention to the ways that the ECEC sector underpins economic recovery, community wellbeing, family stability and of course children’s education and development.
Next year, we should not be surprised if Australian voters come to expect more support for our ECEC sector, particularly as more employers, business leaders and economists join families, early learning professionals and early childhood advocates in calling for a stronger system.
With this in mind, we are looking toward our next phase of work. Through whatever comes next in 2022, we remain committed to taking up opportunities that will bring us closer to addressing the systemic barriers that impact children’s outcomes.
'Right now, I trust, hope, and believe that my child is receiving quality from his ECEC, but I have no idea whether he will enter primary school with the required skills until we actually get there.'
– Parent who uses ECEC.
Some new projects underway for 2022 include:
We will announce more activities as we continue to grow our team and expand our work next year.
To everyone who connects with our work, thank you for your continued support of improving early learning through what has been another difficult year.
I hope everyone enjoys safe and restful holidays and I look forward to an exciting new year.