Scheme to boost early education

Danielle RaffaeleNorth West Telegraph

A targeted program to produce more qualified early childhood educators is set to boost capacity at daycare facilities in a region where parents have been affected by agonising waiting lists.

The $800,000 Thriving Futures program will be rolled out in the Pilbara to increase the number of qualified early childhood educators available, which would prompt centres to increase the number of youngsters they took on and bolster the quality of teaching.

The North West Telegraph reported in 2018 One Tree Len Taplin childcare bosses had raised excruciating waitlist concerns with Community Services Minister Simone McGurk, which lifted the lid on the severity of the issue in the town.

The organisation was moved into the converted Town of Port Hedland library to increase its capacity by 30 earlier this year, while a centre at JD Hardie Youth Centre was also given the thumbs-up to include a childcare centre as part of its transformation into a multipurpose venue. BHP provided $800,000 for the TF program, which will be implemented in partnership with not-for-profit early learning advocate Child Australia.

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Scholarships will be offered as part of the program to increase the amount of qualified early learning staff in local facilities, including a focus on recruiting the Indigenous community, school leavers, parents re-entering the workforce, and mature age workers.

Child Australia chief executive Tina Holtom said she hoped the new program provided targeted community strategies and eased the “high demand for high-quality early learning” despite “a very low candidate pool” in the Pilbara.

Ms Holtom also hoped the new initiative removed the stigma surrounding early childhood education.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions around babysitting and nappy changing, but the realities are that the educator has actually got the ability to really shape the lives of young children, and we need to change the way that that is actually viewed,” she said.

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