Starting now: First steps to a universal early childhood system

Overview

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Starting now header image - Parent and child walking with backs to camera

Starting now is a briefing paper from the Centre for Policy Development’ Early Childhood Development Initiative that sets out a roadmap to a universal, accessible and affordable early childhood system that families can rely on.

Following 2021’s Starting better report which provided a long-term vision for the best early childhood system for Australia, Starting now gives leaders a roadmap with concrete achievable steps over 12 months.

Download Starting Now

Starting now is a focused issues paper that sets out the first steps to the best early childhood system for future generations.

Following 2021’s Starting better report which provided a long-term vision for the best early childhood system for Australia, Starting now gives leaders a roadmap with concrete achievable steps over the next 12 months.

Three key findings from Starting Now

Starting now recommends swift and coordinated action in three key areas to deliver the guarantee for children and families:

  • Action to give parents the confidence to balance work and home by ensuring education and care is available and affordable. This includes: Accelerated changes to subsidy arrangements, measures that ensure public spending flows through to families, educators and teachers, and smarter spending coordination between governments.
  • Action on rewarding, secure early childhood careers so children and families can work with early childhood professionals they know and trust. This includes appropriate valuation of early educators’ work, making early childhood careers a priority at the national Jobs and Skills summit, a tripartite dialogue between unions, employers and government, training incentives for early childhood careers, and lifelong learning for early childhood professionals
  • A national mission for a universal early childhood system This includes a formal agreement between First Ministers to work together on a universal early childhood system, a reform task force to implement it, a special commissioner to lead a Productivity Commission review into a universal early childhood education and care, and long-term funding agreements.

What is the Guarantee for Young Children and Families?

The Guarantee makes clear what every young child and family needs for the best start in life. It is an entitlement Australians can rely on, regardless of where they live, how much money they have, or what their family looks like.

We have several guarantees in Australia now, such as free quality schooling to the end of Year 12 and healthcare. A Guarantee for Young Children and Families would accompany these as part of the social deal that binds Australian communities.

The Guarantee ensures:

  • Babies get time with their parents
  • Quality early education for all
  • Family support in the local community

Why do we need this?

The guarantee recognises that young children and families flourish when they can access a holistic range of support. It is based on global and local evidence of what has the greatest impact and what will work best for Australian children and families.

Children who thrive in their early years flourish throughout their lives.

starting better

Right now, we fail too many children and families.

How does the Guarantee generate returns?

The Guarantee delivers a triple dividend, with lifelong benefits for children, for parents, for early childhood professionals and for national prosperity.

These benefits include:

  • Increased access to the workforce for mothers An increased number of more secure, higher-paying jobs in the growing early childhood education sector.
  • Higher educational attainment for children, and greater workforce participation when they grow up.
  • Happier, healthier and more prosperous lives for children who experience the Guarantee Higher tax revenues and lower health, crisis and policing costs for governments.

Praise for Starting Now

Early Childhood Development Initiative in the media

Productivity Commission report highlights need for reform in Australia’s early childhood system

CPD welcomes Productivity Commission report recommendations and highlights them as an important first step toward building a truly universal early childhood system
The AERO report comes as NSW and Victorian governments are ramping up investment in preschool education, while the Productivity Commission is due to release a draft report into early childhood education and care in November.
The Australian government is currently looking at how to improve the country’s childcare system, and there are two broad reviews of the existing system being undertaken by the Productivity Commission and the Australian Competition and

MEDIA RELEASE: CPD Welcomes Joint Commitment to Transform Early Education

Thursday 16 June 2022 – The Centre for Policy Development (CPD) welcomes today’s joint announcement that Victoria and New South Wales will introduce a universal preschool year as a critical systemic reform with major long-term

MEDIA RELEASE: CPD Welcomes NSW Government Investment in Early Childhood as National Reform Consensus Gathers Momentum

Tuesday 14 June 2022 – Today’s announcement by the NSW Government on early childhood has been welcomed by early childhood policy experts, as consensus on systemic reform builds across levels of government. The $5b decade-long package
Just over a year ago we brought together people from across Australia to ask what we need to make our country a better place to be a child, and to raise one. It was a

About the authors

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Jacki Hayes

Jacki Hayes was program director in the Early Childhood Development Initiative at the Centre for Policy Development

Georgia Wilkinson

Georgia Wilkinson is a policy adviser for the Early Childhood Development Initiative at the Centre for Policy Development

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