This week, New South Wales Senator David Leyonheljm came under fire for comments he made about early childhood educators on Ten’s “The Project” on Tuesday night. This came in light of the Coalition’s plan to put another 3 billion dollars into childcare subsidies for working families. Leyonheljm argues that the proposed packaged benefited the rich more than the poor. But what got people upset was his description of what childcare workers do. Leyonheljm argued:
Apart from the fact you want to make sure there aren’t any paedophiles involved, you have to have credentials these days to be a childcare worker. A lot of women, mostly women, used to look after kids in childcare centres. And then they brought in this national quality framework and they had to get a Certificate III in childcare in order to continue the job they were doing – you know, wiping noses and stopping kids from killing each other.
Despite the outrage, when appearing on Seven’s “Sunrise”, Leyonheljm dug his heels in and refused to apologise. One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson stood by Leyonheljm and said that he was “right”. Hanson then made the comparison between early childhood educators and her as a mother raising four children.
Just to give a context of what Leyonheljm was talking about in regard to the National Quality Framework; back in 2009, the – then Labor Government overthrew the early childhood education system and introduced a National Quality Framework. This, in part, mandated childcare (or early childhood educators), be at least Certificate III qualified to work in early childhood settings or be studying the course while working. This was to allegedly better the care and education outcomes of children who entered childcare services. The Early Years Learning Framework lists skills and awareness a child should be able to achieve by the time they start school. Some of the outcomes listed include: “Children have a strong sense of identity”, “Children are connected and contribute to their world” and “Children have a strong sense of well – being”. To read more about the Outcomes, read pages 21 – 44 here. The introduction of these new requirements have spiked up costs for childcare and neither the Coalition nor Labor have come up with a way to ease the burden on families -some of who are paying over $200 a day in fees in Sydney, with other capital cities not far behind. However, Labor have rejected the figures, according to the Herald Sun, saying the average cost was closer to $88.00 a day.
I have read comments on blogs from people who work in early childhood education who have said that they are snowed under with red tape and paper work. That could be looked at and it would be a benefit, I think to everybody, if that can be scaled back. But to say that they are just babysitters wiping kids noses and stopping them from killing each other is disrespectful, archaic and plain wrong. The vast majority of early childhood educators do so because they are passionate about the well – being and development of young children. They want to nurture children’s interests, culture and talents. They work tirelessly for the benefit of the children – sometimes even into the holidays. These people should be applauded, not given a smart alec comment about what they supposedly do – apparently by someone who has very little idea about what’s involved. These workers should be applauded for working along side parents (not taking their role!). to get the best social, emotional, physical and educational outcomes for the children they work with. They also work alongside specialists when children have physical or other disabilities or illnesses. They let local primary schools know if a child has any difficulties, either academically, behaviourally or in toilet training. They want nothing but the best for the children they work with.
Again, the extent of the regulations in early childhood education and care can be debated and modified to make life simpler for both educators and families. But denigrating what they do is not the way to debate or get anything done.