I am not, currently, in a position to provide the cost of a free national childcare service. This is because there are a significant number of variables which, if costed for, could result in an extremely wide costing range.
Work has begun in my Department on a review of the future funding model for Early Learning and School Age Childcare, in accordance with the commitment made in First 5, the whole-of-government strategy for babies, young children and their families which was published in November 2018.
An Expert Group has been established to examine the current model of funding, its effectiveness in delivering quality, affordable, sustainable and inclusive services and how additional resourcing can be delivered for the sector to achieve these objectives, drawing on international practice in this area.
The Terms of Reference for the Expert Group are as follows:
- agree a set of principles to underpin the new Funding Model in consultation and engagement with key stakeholders as required
- review the existing approach to funding Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in terms of its alignment with the agreed principles, as well as effectiveness in delivering on the policy objectives of quality, affordability, accessibility, and contributing to addressing disadvantage
- drawing on international evidence, identify and consider options on how additional funding for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare can be structured to deliver on the agreed principles and above policy objectives
- agree a final report including a proposed design for a new Funding Model, with accompanying costings, risk analysis and mitigation and a phased implementation plan (with funding likely to become available on an incremental basis) to recommend to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and ultimately Government