This week, Samaritans will welcome federal members, Sharon Claydon and Meryl Swanson to visit their Early Learning Centres in Newcastle and Woodberry, as part of Australia’s first ever Early Learning Matters Week, a national initiative of the Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign.
In the first week of September, early childhood services from every state and territory have invited their local federal politicians to visit and experience quality early learning and hear from educators and parents why Early Learning matters.
“Early learning matters because it’s in these early years before children turn five, that children’s brains are growing the fastest and are wired to learn. It’s when the foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life are laid down,” Brad Webb, Samaritans Chief Executive, said.
“Here at Samaritans we have qualified early childhood educators providing children from six weeks to six years with invaluable play-based and intentional indoor and outdoor activities that support children’s development of social, emotional, cognitive and language skills,” Mr Webb said.
Australian and international research shows that children who participate in one or more years of quality early learning have improved school education performance, are better able to manage their behaviour and have lower levels of hyperactivity. They are more likely to finish high school and go on to academic studies and more likely to find steady employment.
“Whilst Australia has improved in attendance of four-year old’s in preschool/kindergarten programs in recent years, we are still in the bottom third of developed countries for attendance in early learning for three-year old’s and younger,” said Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign spokesperson, Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia.
“Families face too many barriers to accessing early learning and too many children are still missing out on the benefits of attending at least two days of early learning for their children regardless of where they live in Australia or what their work or study activities are,” she said.
“Whilst the new Child Care Subsidy system is making access to early learning more affordable for most families where both parents are working, there are concerns that some vulnerable children (who benefit the most) are missing out on access to early learning reduced. Through all of the services Samaritans delivers, we see the impact of disadvantage through all stages of life- the early years are so critical in establishing a positive trajectory for life,” Mr Webb said.
The Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign calls on federal politicians in both houses of parliament to:
- Ensure all Australian children have access to at least two days per week of early childhood education, irrespective of their parents’ activities
- Develop a whole of government Early Years Strategy to ensure no children fall though the gaps
- Provide a long-term commitment to maintain current total levels of funding for Universal Access to kindergarten or preschool programs in the year before school
- Extend kindergarten/preschool funding for play-based programs to support 3-year old’s
- Improve quality of early education and care through ongoing support for the National Quality Agenda and workforce development initiatives
- Improve support for disadvantaged children, especially those living in regional and remote areas and from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Samaritans Early Learning Centres are fully accredited, non-profit, community-based child care centres located in Woodberry and Darby St, Newcastle which provide high quality care for children from Monday to Friday, 49 weeks per year.
“The centres are staffed by a dedicated team of professionals, committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn, develop and grow in an environment that is safe, nurturing and designed to meet the changing needs of children and families as they join our growing community. This education and care should be available to everyone, regardless of their family’s circumstance,” Mr Webb said.