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The latest in early childhood news

Making news this fortnight … New research shows 97% of families think early childhood education and care (ECEC) is integral to getting back to work, with some worried they’ll be ‘locked out’; while Oxfam suggests that a 50% increase in Australian women’s unpaid work might be solved by a sustainable ECEC model.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) releases guidelines and key dates for ECEC services to apply for and receive transition grants; an independent report finds preschool participation has increased but some groups continue to miss out; education degrees are prioritised in the government’s university funding shake-up; the Gonski Institute releases resources for parents and caregivers; and international research gets serious about play for children’s wellbeing.

Finally, find key dates for your diary; and click here to go straight to ECA’s mini-survey on the transition package.

Find the latest in state and territory news and jump down to read what ECA teams have been doing.

You are invited to participate in the Australian Early Education Sector COVID-19 survey. By participating in this anonymous survey, you will receive access to the final report with intelligence gathered from thousands of early education and care services. The report will help you understand how COVID-19 has impacted your centre in comparison to similar local providers against key metrics like occupancy. You’ll also gain insight and case studies on how to rebound post-COVID-19, and the role technology can play. Begin survey here.
Support for each child’s learning
The Gonski Institute has released resources for parents and caregivers to support their child’s education. The guides provide quality, up-to-date information, translated research and practical tips on a range of topics including being a child’s ‘first and forever teacher’, why play matters and the impact of parental beliefs. Find them here. 
Prioritising time for unstructured, child-led play is key to supporting children’s mental wellbeing, especially during a pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association. Read the International Play Association’s Play in crisis: Support for parent and carers guidebook here.  
DESE guidelines on transition grants
DESE is advising ECEC providers by email of changed arrangements as the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package (Relief Package) ceases 12 July, and the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) resume from 13 July 2020.
Instead of JobKeeper, ECEC providers will receive Transition Payments, made as a grant under the Community Child Care Fund. Find detailed instructions and more information in the Transition Payment Guidelines and the Grant Agreement template with terms and conditions. 

Unpaid work

Before the pandemic, Australian women spent 64.4% of their week on unpaid work, and early research by Oxfam indicates this has increased by 50%. A sustainable model of early childhood education and care is one solution to reducing this burden.
Save the date 
Early Learning Matters Week, 3–7 August, is fast approaching—details on celebrating 2020-style coming soon. NAIDOC Week (usually held in July) has moved to 8–15 November 2020, and Malala Day (12 July) celebrates and advocates girls’ education.
University funding shakeup
Degrees in education, languages, nursing and psychology will have fees cut by 46% in an effort to steer future students towards occupations that the government forecasts will have increased demand. Education Minister Dan Tehan also details fee increases of 113% for law, commerce and arts degrees. 
ECA asks: Have your say
ECA has developed a mini-survey on the impact on ECEC services of the transition to CCS. Tell us how you think it will affect your early learning setting. Click here to find the survey.
Importance of ECEC
Over 97% of families think ECEC is important, particularly for families seeking new employment due to COVID-19, according to survey findings published by The Front Project. Researchers from the Mitchell Institute warn that vulnerable families and families looking for work may be locked out of early childhood education and care when fees return in mid-July. 
Preschool: Universal access
An independent review of the Universal Access National Partnership (UANP) finds that it is a major success, with increased participation in quality preschool (kindergarten) programs in the year before full-time school. Yet some children still miss out—among them, Indigenous, vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Barriers include transport costs, lack of wraparound care and the home environment. Read more here. 
In state and territory news...

After two dozen COVID-19 cases in Victoria, the state government is discouraging regional or interstate travel for residents of six council areas: Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin. As of Monday 22 June, Melbourne residents inside the ‘hotspots’ are encouraged to limit travel to only essential trips. Children who live in the affected council areas may still attend early learning. Victorian educators can register for a number of free webinars on educator wellbeing and the state government will extend a free, evidence-based program, Play Learn Grow, for parents of two- and three-year-old children. Participants who sign up receive three text messages a week with information and activities they can do with their children at home.

In Tasmania, early learning educators will support school-aged children as a part of a ‘bounce back to learning at school’ program, and the state government has launched a new website to help eliminate family and sexual violence.

This week the New South Wales (NSW) government announced another round of Start Strong funding for community preschools to create additional places for children on waitlists. Three new public schools will be built in NSW to meet demands in Blacktown, Wagga Wagga and Camden. Not-for-profit and mobile preschools are eligible to apply for a Capital Works grant to build, renovate or extend their facilities to deliver a community preschool, or purchase a vehicle for a mobile preschool to cater for increasing enrolments.

All public preschools across South Australia are undergoing maintenance work as a part of a $25 million upgrade.
Connect through stories
We may have to be physically distant but you can still stay connected through ECA Events Connect. These highly interactive online events are proving popular with ECEC professionals across Australia. Make sure you are part of the next one: ‘Connect with stories and storytelling’, on Friday 17 July, 9.30 am–3pm. Book now.
Invest in yourself
Save 15% on ECA Learning Hub Annual Subscriptions for Individuals during the EOFY Sale and access new subscriber-only resources, including new webinars from Dr Stuart Shanker, Catharine Hydon and Ian Alchin. Learn more. 
Consultant support
Registered Be You Learning Communities have access to Be You Consultants. Keeping connected with Consultants can assist implementing Be You at your early learning service. Register here.
Publication resources online
Did you know becoming a subscriber to the ECA Research in Practice Series or Everyday Learning Series now entitles you to receive accompanying online resources that complement these professional learning resources?
ECA WebWatch—Issue 334, June 2020.