Early childhood education and care united under new office
Early childhood education and care are intrinsically linked, with research proving a child's early experiences have lifelong impacts on their health, learning and behaviour.
The Queensland Government recognised this link and on 1 January 2009 brought together early childhood education and care services within the one government agency for the first time.
The establishment of the new Office for Early Childhood Education and Care marked a new era in early childhood education and care in Queensland.
Created to deliver the Toward Q2: Tomorrow's Queensland vision to provide all Queensland children with access to high-quality early education before they start school, the new Office's immediate priority is to plan and gradually implement universal access to quality early childhood education by mid 2013.
This will include working with the long day care sector to gradually implement a kindergarten program for children attending selected long day care centres.
The Office is also leading Queensland's input into the national early childhood reform agenda that is being progressed through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).This work is focussed on providing Queensland children with a flying start in life.
Early Years Centres support families
Queensland families are enjoying one-stop access to child and family related activities and support at two new early years centres.
Offering a range of integrated services including early childhood education and care, family support and health services, the early years centres at Nerang and Caboolture have proved popular with local children and their families.
Early years centres are places for children and families to learn new skills, meet new friends and access support services.
The provision of these services in one place makes it easier for parents to access the services they need as their children grow.
The centres were established as part of the Queensland Government's $32 million commitment to extend services and support for children up to the age of eight and their families.
New early years centres will open in Browns Plains in 2009 and Cairns in 2010.
Queensland kids say 'yes please' to Let's Read
More than 8,500 children from 11 communities across Queensland are sharing special moments reading with their parents and carers thanks to the Let's Read program.
As part of the program, children and their parents participate in a reading session with a project officer and receive a Let's Read pack including an instructional DVD and tip sheet as well as a copy of a great early childhood book, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Dear Zoo.
The program also uses volunteers, particularly seniors, to read aloud to children in local community settings
The program helps children discover the joy of reading with others, and promotes the importance of reading to children from birth.
The program offers one-on-one support to parents who have previously not had the confidence to read to their children, helping reading become a special activity for parents and children to share.
An initiative of the Centre for Community Child Health, the Let's Read program is being implemented in Queensland by The Smith Family with funding from the Office for Early Childhood Education and Care under the Best Start "Reading to Children" initiative.
Pilot kindergarten program gives children a flying start
Children in five Queensland communities are experiencing a love of learning thanks to a pilot mobile kindergarten program targeting rural, remote and disadvantaged areas.
The Office for Early Childhood Education and Care is undertaking the pilot in partnership with the Australian Government and preschool professionals. The pilot is testing different service delivery models that enable children to participate in a kindergarten program, no matter what their circumstances or where they live.
Children from Carole Park and Redbank Plains; Woodridge; Karumba and Normanton; Richmond and Julia Creek; and Surat and Injune are participating in the pilot which provides a kindergarten program in a range of settings, including multi-age, family day care and long day care centres.
The mobile kindergarten program has already had a positive impact on the early learning experiences of children in these areas, with parents noticing and reporting improvement in their child's social, early literacy and numeracy skills.
The Office for Early Childhood Education and Care was established on 1 January 2009, bringing the responsibility for early childhood development and education policy and childcare services in Queensland into one agency.
Taking lead responsibility for children's early development, the office is managing the implementation of universal access to kindergarten, including:
- rolling out a significant program of additional kindergarten infrastructure
- managing regulation and licensing of early childhood services
- supporting the delivery of integrated early childhood services
- supporting the childcare sector
- providing extra support where needed so that all children can access quality early education services.
All Queensland children and families will have access to quality early childhood education and care services. To achieve this goal, the Office of Early Childhood Education and Care is focusing on:
- universal access to kindergarten
- regulations and licensing
- integrated programs and services.
- Development of a Queensland early years strategy to articulate the vision and priorities for action for early childhood development services across Queensland.
- By mid-2013, all 3 1/2 to 4 1/2-year-old Queensland children will have access to a quality kindergarten program delivered for 15 hours per week, at least 40 weeks per year.
- Kindergarten programs will be delivered by four-year qualified early childhood teachers or registered teachers with early childhood qualifications by mid-2013.
- Children from disadvantaged, rural and remote communities participate in kindergarten at a similar rate to the broader kindergarten age cohort.
- Provision of integrated early years education, care, health and family services targeted to community needs.
- Early childhood education and care services in Queensland achieve high quality standards.
- Establishment of four early years centres in Nerang, Caboolture, Browns Plains and Cairns.
- Proportion of Queensland children enrolled in a quality kindergarten program.
- Proportion of Indigenous children and children in disadvantaged communities enrolled in a quality kindergarten program.
- Proportion of early childhood education and care service providers meeting national quality standards.
Note: The office is developing additional performance measures to report progress against priority early childhood education and care outcomes for Queensland children. During 2009-10, the office will collaborate with the Australian Government and other states and territories to improve data collection, and to undertake research and evaluation on early childhood interventions for performance monitoring and accountability purposes. This will include the collection and analysis of data against the outcomes, outputs and performance indicators in the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education and the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development. Baseline data will provide a basis for monitoring and evaluating progress over time. For more detailed information see the development and implementation of these measures.