MEDIA RELEASE The United Workers Union says the Prime Minister must keep his promise to protect the essential service of early education.

With the release of the review into the Government’s policy today, the union for early childhood education and care (ECEC) is warning a premature end to the emergency ECEC funding could cost thousands of jobs and threaten the financial viability of early learning centres across Australia and threaten thousands of educators’ jobs.

Helen Gibbons, the director for early childhood education at United Workers Union says, “The Prime Minister declared that early learning is an essential service in our community. An essential service that parents and the community rely on. Urgent funding was injected into the sector to save it from imminent collapse. This funding made child care free for parents but now that emergency package is under threat.

“If the Prime Minister now makes a U-turn on emergency funding for early learning it will be painful and chaotic. He must keep his promise to children, families and educators.

“The early learning sector’s workforce nurtures our children at the most critical stage of life development. This isn’t something to be played with. Without a stable sector and workforce children miss out on important learning opportunities and parents miss out on accessing employment.

“If emergency support for early learning ends before the economy and the community bounces back enrolments will once again plummet and centres and staff will be left reeling. Young children, their families and educators need some security and predictability.

“The funding arrangements haven’t been perfect. There was significant confusion about how it would operate, alongside JobKeeper eligibility. The solution is not to now trash the scheme, but work with the sector to fix the issues and deliver a strong ECEC sector as Australian families get back to work. Increased enrolments will require an increase to the base funding.

“In the short term we need to adjust the funding but this is also an opportunity to examine if our structure and system of provision is serving our children and families well. The imminent collapse of the sector exposed deep flaws in how we provide such an essential service.”

Educators have been telling their union that they are already facing a widespread slashing of hours and have seen many colleagues stood down. Workforce stress is extensive. A topsy turvy funding arrangement with no predictability will only make matters worse.

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