The Minister for Early Childhood, Peter Garrett, and the Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care, Kate Ellis, today announced more than $32.4 million to further the early childhood reform agenda.
The funding consists of a $9.2 million Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) package to assist the early childhood workforce to access training and $23.2 million over four years for the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) to be met from within existing resources, bringing total funding for AEDI to $28 million (indexed) for each three year cycle.
Finding room in this very responsible budget for increased funding has been difficult, but shows what a high priority early childhood development is for the Gillard Government.
“The ongoing Australian Early Development Index funding will ensure that governments and communities continue to have the information they need to make a difference in the lives of young children and their families.” Ms Ellis said.
“The collection of data every three years through the Australian Early Development Index will measure the development of our kids and inform communities and governments about the resources required to best prepare students for the school environment.” said Mr Garrett.
In addition to gathering key data on the development of Australia’s children, supporting the early childhood workforce is critical to ensuring families have access to high quality early childhood services.
The Recognition of Prior Learning package will provide early childhood workers with greater access to upgrading their qualifications through a national assessment process.
The measure will be of greatest benefit to child care professionals in rural and remote areas, who have difficulty accessing these programs.
It is clear that well trained and qualified early childhood workers are more likely to produce stronger results for children, particularly vulnerable children.
This will help support the Government’s National Quality reform agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care – so all children are supported by trained early learning professionals, and have good quality early learning experiences.
The RPL package will fund
- the development of specialist training for 600 RPL assessors in delivery of Certificate III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Children's Services; and
- grants of up to $1125 for 2000 rural and remote child care staff per year, to reimburse them for out of pocket expenses associated with accessing RPL.
The Gillard Government will invest $500 000 to help early childhood professionals develop the skills they need to identify mental health risks and intervene appropriately.
“The ability of early childhood professionals to recognise early signs of mental health issues will lead to earlier intervention and better results for children’s mental health and wellbeing in the future.” Ms Ellis said.
”The Gillard Government’s mental health reform agenda is recognition of the importance of early intervention to maximise a child’s potential.”
“Investment of this kind allows us to address the links between mental health and social or emotional development and the communities in which children live,” said Mr Garrett.
The Gillard Government continues to deliver reforms to give every child a great education.