Coalition unveils largest-ever investment in child care PD
- Assistant Minister for Education
The Coalition has unveiled the details of its programme delivering the largest-ever government investment in professional development for long day care educators.
Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said about $200 million would be allocated towards helping long day care services with the cost of upskilling and training educators to meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework.
Ms Ley said the programme would also provide additional support for early childhood teachers, as well as services located in regional, rural and remote communities, to help tackle skills shortages in both areas.
The Long Day Care Professional Development Programme (LDCPDP) will use the remaining funds from Labor’s controversial Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF), which was shut down after an independent report found it was used as a vehicle for union recruitment. The EYQF is currently under examination by the Auditor General.
Ms Ley said the LDCPDP was much fairer and equitable than Labor’s EYQF and would deliver lasting, long-term benefits for the entire long day care sector.
“When Labor created their dodgy union slush fund they proclaimed hand-on-heart it was about helping services meet National Quality Framework standards,” she said.
“While it turned out to be another broken Labor promise, the Coalition is ensuring this money will be genuinely used to help deliver high-quality child care for our kids.
“We’re also making sure all long day care services have fair and equitable access to these funds, as opposed to a select few under Labor. Higher standards come at a higher cost and this will hopefully take some pressure off fees for families as well.”
Ms Ley said all approved long day care services would be eligible for funding and they would also receive greater flexibility in how the funds were used to help meet their individual needs, whilst at the same time restoring greater accountability.
She said the LDCPDP would not be a competitive ‘first-in, first-served’ like Labor’s EYQF – a key factor found to have contributed to the ALP fund’s inequities.
An independent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report found less than one-third of all long day care workers could have accessed funding from Labor’s EYQF after the $300 million fund was exhausted in just 13 hours. That number fell to just one-in-six when applied to the entire child care workforce.
This was despite the PwC report finding the number of unionised enterprise bargaining agreements in the long day care sector quadrupled from 100 to 400.
Long Day Care Professional Development Programme Guidelines:
• Under the Coalition’s LDCPDP, long day care services will receive:
o A base rate of $3750 per educator.
o An additional $2300 per early-childhood teacher they employ, regardless of location.
o An additional $4100 per educator for services in outer regional areas
o An additional $4400 per educator for services in remote and very remote areas.
• It will assist both full-time and part-time educators who are either qualified or studying early childhood-related qualifications. As such, payments will be made to services based on the number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff.
• Services will apply on behalf of educators – staff will not apply individually.
• Providers with multiple services (10 or more) will only have to apply once.
• Funding agreements will be for a total of three years, ending 30 June 2017.
• Services will receive funding in three instalments, with the last two payments being conditional upon acceptance of progress reports accounting for how the funding is being spent – this is to ensure funds are being used appropriately.
• Any unspent funds at the end of the three-year period will have to be returned to the Government.
• Applications open Monday, 19 May 2014.
• Note: The Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Act 2013, introduced by the previous Labor government, mandates these funds can only be used to support long day care services.
• Note: To ensure fairness and equity, the 16 services with signed EYQF funding agreements will not be eligible, as this would equate to ‘double-dipping’. Of these 16 services, 11 chose to keep the funds for wages, while 5 chose to use all or some of their EYQF funding for professional development.
• Note: Separate guidelines and application process will apply for the Coalition’s allocation of $30 million from the EYQF to specifically support the professional development of educators working with vulnerable and disadvantaged children. These will be announced in 2014-15.
Examples of what the funding can be used for:
• Assisting staff to meet the costs of gaining formal early childhood qualifications, including early childhood teaching degrees.
• Costs associated with backfilling staff absent from work due to training or other professional development activities.
• Provision of specific training, such as on-site courses.
• Purchasing materials such as academic journals or teaching packs.
The funding cannot be used for:
• Wage increases and over-time payments.
• Purchasing major equipment or undertaking capital works or renovations.
• Training undertaken before, or commencing after, the funding period.
• Activities already funded by another entity e.g. a state or territory government.
• Overseas conferences, study tours or workshops.
• Training unrelated to the National Quality Framework.