The latest in early childhood news

Making news this fortnight… The Parenthood publishes a new report, Making Australia the Best Place in the World to be a Parent; Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt addresses parliament following the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations; the Smiling Mind program expands for rural and regional schools; and the Smart Start campaign is asking parents to complete a survey on early childhood education and care. Join ECA and Thrive by Five for the free webinar, Women and work: Addressing gender inequality; the first collection of Lego Braille Bricks arrives in Australia; and ECA would like to hear about your experiences with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Find the latest in state and territory news and jump down to read what ECA teams have been doing.
Early education costs 
Making Australia the Best Place in the World to be a Parent, a new report by The Parenthood, suggests universal access to family-support services, early education and parental leave could increase Australia’s GDP by 8.7% in three decades, if workforce participation among women grew to equal that of men. Meanwhile, Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge says almost a quarter of Australian parents still pay $2 per hour or less for early education and care.
Social and emotional learning 
Six hundred of Australia’s rural and regional primary schools will gain access to the Smiling Mind social and emotional learning program, the federal government announced last Wednesday (10 February). Through online training and resources, this evidence-based mindfulness program aims to nurture positive student and educator mental health and wellbeing.

National Apology anniversary 

Saturday (13 February) was the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, marked the occasion with a special address to parliament on Monday.
Parent survey 
The Smart Start campaign is calling on parents with children under the age of five to complete a short survey about community attitudes towards early education and care. We invite you to share this link with parents accessing your service.
Women and work 
Thrive by Five and ECA are hosting the third and final conversation in a series, Women and work: Addressing gender inequality, on Friday 5 March, 11.15 am - 12:15 pm (AEDT). Listen to ECA’s CEO Sam Page and a renowned line-up of speakers discuss the role of early childhood education in supporting women to re-enter and remain in the paid workforce.

Lego Braille Bricks 

Children with vision impairment have been given a tool to learn maths and literacy by touch with the first collection of Lego Braille Bricks arriving in Australia. In this article, ABC News explores how the bricks are encouraging children with visual impairments to learn through play.

FASD survey

ECA is collaborating with the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD Australia) to create an educator resource. We are currently gathering background information about educators’ experiences and understandings of FASD, and invite you to take a five-minute survey by clicking here.
In state and territory news...

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five-day lockdown from 11:59 pm Friday 12 February, in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak linked to a Melbourne quarantine hotel. Schools and early childhood centres remained open for vulnerable children and for children of those who were permitted to go to work, or couldn't work from home. At time of press, the Premier announced the lockdown will be lifted at 11:59pm tonight

The NSW Government has launched a new strategy to improve education outcomes for children living in rural communities.

Hundreds of South Australian women have accessed financial support measures to help them and their children escape family and domestic violence during the pandemic.
New on The Spoke 
Family trees and belonging walls—Molly Rhodin encourages us to reflect on how we use and display these in early childhood settings. And explore ways to foster girls’ interest in STEM in the early years, as part of celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Resilience Leadership Forum 
Join us on Friday 19 February to discuss how ethical decision-making, trauma-informed practice, self-regulation approaches and protective factors for leaders’ wellbeing can support our learning communities. Register for the free event here.
Engineering creativity
Check out the latest webcast on the ECA Learning Hub, Engineering creativity: Celebrating loose parts play for all ages by Robin Christie. This webcast shares practical examples of loose parts play using materials that are recovered, upcycled or drawn from nature.
2021 ECA National Conference
The 2021 ECA National Conference will be held in Brisbane over 6–9 September 2021, and the Program at a Glance is now available. Click here to see the keynote speakers, panels and presenters joining the conference.
Everyday Learning Series
Educators play a significant role in young children’s lives, which is why it’s important for them to continually learn and improve practices. Read more about continuous improvement in the next edition of the Everyday Learning SeriesClick here to subscribe to the series
ECA Shop
It’s not too late to get organised for 2021: a small selection of ECA’s 2021 Early Years Daily Planners are still available. The latest edition features a selection of covers based on Australian flora and includes a sheet of stickers to mark important dates. Buy them for your rooms here.
ECA WebWatch—Issue 349, February 2021.