The latest in early childhood news

Making news this fortnight … As COVID-19 transmission rates rise, new restrictions and measures come into force in Victoria affecting specified local government areas, border communities, travel and education; the Victorian Department of Education and Training releases a statement on how the new restrictions impact early childhood education and care (ECEC); Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan waives the parent gap fee for Victorian families in COVID-19 restricted areas and extends the tax deadline for families receiving Child Care Subsidy (CCS) payments as the deadline for the end of the ECEC Relief Package approaches; and find ECA’s related media release here.

SNAICC launches a new website for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day; the education gap widens for vulnerable children due to remote learning; Indigenous children are set to receive a meningococcal B vaccination as part of their immunisation program and entries for the Little Scientists Early STEM Award are now open. A different way to recognise Early Learning Matters Week in 2020; and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launches a new working paper that explores parenting and the influence on child development.

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

Ministerial announcements
On Tuesday 7 July, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a reintroduction of Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions for all Melbourne metropolitan areas and the Shire of Mitchell. Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan announced that from Monday 13 July all Victorian ECEC services located in areas subject to the restrictions will be able to waive parent gap fees for children 'not attending child care for COVID-related reasons'. Early childhood services will continue to have the CCS paid for COVID-related absences, allowing families to maintain their enrolments without needing to pay for missed days due to the pandemic. Read Minister Tehan’s full media release here

Jump down to state and territory news for details of Victorian lockdown areas, impacts on school holidays, travel and education as well as a statement from Victoria’s Department of Education and Training for early education and care services.

CCS tax deadline extended
Minister for Education, Dan Tehan announced a tax deadline extension for families who receive CCS payments. Families now have until 31 March 2021 to submit their 2018–19 tax return. Read more here

National Children's Day
A new website has been launched by SNAICC-National Voice for our Children for the upcoming National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (4 August). It features background information, merchandise, ways to get involved, downloadable resources, activities and a visual showcase of how the day has been celebrated in the past. Discover more here

A wider education gap
New research from a nationwide survey shows the gap between advantage and disadvantage in Australian education widened due to distance learning during COVID-19. Many children will continue to fall behind unless gaps in access and technology are addressed. Read more.

Meningococcal B vaccine
The meningococcal B vaccination is now part of the free National Immunisation Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under two years of age. Children from Indigenous backgrounds are four times more likely than other children to contract the disease. Read more here.

Little Scientists STEM Award
Entries for the Little Scientists Early STEM Award are now open. This year’s theme is ‘Quirky Curious Future’. The award recognises and celebrates early childhood settings that have successfully implemented inquiry-based learning and child-led STEM exploration.

Child development paper
A new OECD paper titled Why parenting matters for children in the 21st century brings together evidence-based studies to examine the impact of parenting on child development. It’s part of the OECD Working Paper series aimed at making selected studies available to a wider readership. Read more here.
Website launch
Early Learning Matters Week is coming up (3–7 August 2020) and we invite you to highlight the important work educators and children do together. This year, we will come together (online) to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of early learning around Australia.

In state and territory news...

On Tuesday 7 July, the Victorian Government reimposed stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions on metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire Council, from 11:59pm on Wednesday 8 July, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) have advised all ECEC services can continue to operate, unless instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services to close. This also includes sessional kindergartens, which can return to on-site learning at the start of Term 3 on Monday 13 July. Services across the state must have appropriate risk-mitigation measures in place. Regardless of where families live, their child can continue to attend ECEC. Services located in lockdown areas are able to waive parent gap fees if children are not attending child care for COVID-related reasons from Monday 13 July.

School information
For all schools in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, there will be five pupil-free days from Monday 13 to Friday 17 July for all students, except for young students enrolled in specialist schools—these children will all attend on-site from Monday 13 July.

During this time, schools will provide a program of care and supervision for those students whose parents/carers cannot work from home and for vulnerable students. 

And click here for the statement by the Victorian Department of Education and Training about the impact these announcements will have on early learning services.

The Victorian Department of Education and Training and Early Childhood Australia are providing a series of free webinars focussed on educator wellbeing. Click here for more details and to register for these free professional learning events.

The Tasmania Department of Education has developed a multimedia education resource for educators and teachers called The Orb. It features autobiographical stories from Tasmanian Aboriginal people and is suitable for children of all ages. The video stories and related materials are aligned to the Australian Curriculum. Find out more.

Theories and methods
Three authors share insights about using the ‘theory of practice architectures’ in three very different early childhood contexts. And an early childhood music teacher explores methods of music education and asks: does the mode of delivery matter?

Early Years Learning Communities
These communities have ongoing opportunities for educators to come together online and explore ways to promote positive, inclusive and resilient early learning services. Join to connect, share knowledge, lead learning and take action.

ECA Awards open
Applications and nominations are open for the ECA Awards. Recognised within the ECEC sector, the awards acknowledge the valuable role that professional educators play in promoting and enhancing the delivery of early years learning. Find out more.

Recognition and support
The latest issue of Every Child magazine brings together voices from across the country to recognise the dedication and hard work of educators during the COVID-19 crisis. Also in this issue find mental health and wellbeing tips along with advice about helping children understand the pandemic.

New learning package
ECA and Dr Claire Warden have launched the Learning with Nature professional learning package, featuring ten online learning modules that explore Nature Pedagogy within the Australian context. Find out more.
ECA WebWatch—Issue 335, July 2020.