Options were the key theme as Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen, visited Terrace yesterday.
Chen spoke at length on her government’s plans to give parents more options for both smaller, more focused centres, but also for larger, cheaper, options, as well as how to create more methods of training and better support for child care providers.
“The strategies have to work at the same time,” says Chen, “we’re working on supporting the work force (with) more resources, more support, we’re looking at CCR (Child Care Resource Referal Centers), how do we support the workforce while at the same time creating spaces and making child care more affordable?”
“We have an ambitious goal of creating 22,000 child care spaces in the coming 3 years.”
Chen discussed a new work integrated training system as a way to help ECE providers get early hands on experience, online programs for ease of access, and bursaries that will allow more people to get in to the field.
She also highlighted the government’s focus on retention and recruitment for the next 3 years.
“Currently we are facing recruitment and retention challenges, ECE workers or providers tend not to stay in the sector for very long, they’re underpaid, they work long hours,” Chen continues, “how do we make sure we support them (better)?”
A new fee reduction strategy and affordable child care benefit are just two ways the government hopes to benefit both parents and child care providers.