Growing Together: A future universal early childhood education and care system for Australia



Growing Together is a report from the Centre for Policy Development’s early childhood development initiative, building on their landmark Starting Better report and Guarantee for children and families. It outlines essential steps for achieving a truly universal early education and care system.

While the government has committed to “making high-quality, equitable, and affordable early childhood education universal”, recent reports from the ACCC and Productivity Commission reveal that the current approach falls short.

CPD’s report calls for reforms to enhance accessibility, affordability, and quality in early learning. Its 10 key reforms aim to align Australia’s early learning system with other universal systems like schooling and Medicare.

Download Growing Together

Growing Together is a report from the Centre for Policy Development that outlines a long-term vision and roadmap for a reformed early childhood education and care system in Australia.

Its 10 key reforms aim to build a better system that all children and families can rely on.

Why does this matter?

Early learning in Australia is becoming increasingly difficult for families to afford, and even those who can afford expensive services are struggling to find places due to workforce shortages and a lack of early learning centres.

Research has shown that roughly 22% of children start school developmentally vulnerable, and that complex subsidy arrangements and activity tests are causing around 126,000 to miss out on crucial early learning and care.

Without significant reform, children will continue to miss out on early learning and families will continue to struggle balancing work and care responsibilities, with far reaching consequences.

What reforms does the report recommend?

The report proposes 10 transformative reforms to create a truly inclusive early education and care system for all children and families. They include boosting workforce support and investment, defining clear government roles, investing to establish new services in unserved and underserved communities, and enhancing data sharing.

The report’s key reforms are:

  • A legislated entitlement for all children to access three days of education and care per week at a low set fee, such as $10 a day, or no cost.
  • Shifting to a child-centred funding model, replacing the childcare subsidy with base funding for all providers and additional needs and service-based funding for specific costs.
  • Ensuring the system is equitable and inclusive by providing increased support and funding based on children and families’ needs.

These changes aim to make early education accessible, affordable, and equitable for everyone.

Growing Together in the media

Childcare should be free, according to Greens member for Western Victoria Sarah Mansfield.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has backed calls for a $10 childcare scheme that has been floated as a way of helping young children get a better education.
There are calls for an overhaul of Australia’s early learning sector as parents battle high costs and low availability. Under the proposal, parents would pay no more than $10 for childcare - if anything at all.
A leading think-tank has put forward a plan suggesting all Australian families could have three days of childcare per week, at a cost of no more than $10 per day.
Could your childcare be just 10 bucks a day in 10 years’ time? Australian think-tank the Centre for Policy Development has charted a path to get us there…amid a growing push to make childcare universal.
Anthony Albanese says universal childcare would be a “national asset” akin to Medicare and superannuation, with the Prime Minister welcoming a fresh proposal to cap childcare at $10 a day as an “important contribution” to efforts to reform the sector.
Regional childcare providers have cautiously welcomed a proposal to make childcare universal but say there are greater pressures on the sector in the regions that need to be tackled.
Australia already has universal schooling, Medicare and superannuation and the prime minister believes childcare should be treated the same way.
A think tank has called for Australia's "broken" childcare system to be drastically reformed to make the service more accessible to families.
Parents could save hundreds of dollars a week if the government overhauled its early childhood education scheme by paying providers directly and capping out of pocket costs to $10 a day for half the week, a new report says.
Families should be able to send their children to daycare at least three days a week at a cost of no more than $10 a day, a think tank recommends, in an overhaul of the way early childhood education and
A fundamental overhaul of childcare would create a more productive workforce, set children up to be healthier and better direct $15 billion of taxpayers money each year.
A pitch to reform Australia's "broken" childcare system could mean Australian families pay as little as $10 a day for the critical service, or nothing at all for low-income households.
A new report by the Centre for Policy Development has recommended three days of free child care for some families with a small fee for others.
A new CPD report has highlighted that achieving the government’s ambition for truly universal early education and care, one that works for all children and families, will be possible through bold reforms implemented over the course of the next decade.

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