Productivity Commission Inquiry Into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning

In 2014 the Australian Government commissioned the Productivity Commission to undertake an Inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning to examine and identify future options for a child care and early childhood learning system that:

  • Supports workforce participation, particularly for women
  • Addresses children's learning and development needs, including transition to schooling
  • Is more flexible to suit the needs of families, including families with non standard work hours, disadvantaged children, and regional families
  • Is based on appropriate and fiscally sustainable funding arrangements that better support flexible, affordable and accessible quality child care and early childhood learning

Public Consultation

The Productivity Commission has engaged in extensive public consultation as part of its Inquiry which has included holding public hearings, inviting public submissions and releasing a draft report to the public (see below). The final report was submitted to the Australian Government on 31 October 2014. 

Public Submissions

Law Council of Australia Submission - Inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning

Draft Report

Draft Report -Productivity Commission into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning

Key Points

  • Formal and informal Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services play a vital role in the development of Australian children and their preparation for school, and in enabling parents to work
  • Many parents use a mix of care types and/or choose to care for their children at home
  • The number of ECEC services has expanded substantially over the past 5 years
  • Australian Government funding has increased to $7 billion per year and covers two thirds of total ECEC costs
  • Many parents report difficulties in finding ECEC at a location, price, quality and hours they want
  • ECEC issues are just some of a broad range of work, family and financial factors which influence parent work decisions
  • The interaction of tax and welfare policies provide disincentives for many second income earners to work more than part time
  • The benefits from participation in preschool for children's development and transition to school are largely undisputed
  • There are some benefits from early identification of, and intervention for, children with development vulnerabilities
  • The National Quality Framework for ECEC services must be retained, modified and extended to all Government funded services
  • The range of services approved for assistance should include approved nannies and the cap should be removed from occasional care places to better meet the needs and budgets of families
  • All primary schools should be directed to provide outside school hours care for their students, where sufficient demand exists for a viable service

Priority Areas

Government assistance should focus on the following priority areas:

  • Be tested and paid directly to the family's choice of approved services, for up to 100 hours per fortnight and based on a reasonable cost of delivering ECEC for each age of child in different ECEC types
  • In regional, rural and remote areas with fluctuating child populations, viability assistance should be provided on a limited time basis
  • Children with additional needs should have access to a 'top-up' subsidy to meet the additional reasonable costs of service
  • Services should have access to assistance to build capacity to provide ECEC for individual additional needs children, for children in highly disadvantaged communities and to facilitate the integration of ECEC with schools and other services
  • The Australian Government should continue to support the states and territories for all children to attend an approved preschool program in the year prior to school

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Productivity Commission?

The Productivity Commission is the Australian Government’s independent research
and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting
the welfare of Australians. Its role is to help governments
make better policies that are in the long term interest of the Australian community