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Staff shortages hit NSW childcare centres

The NSW Minns government's first budget is expected to include a $100m early learning package.

The NSW Minns government's first budget is expected to include a $100m early learning package. Photo: AAP

A staff shortage means more than half of NSW childcare centres are likely to cut available places, heaping pressure on parents in the lead-up to Christmas.

Nearly 60 per cent of childcare centres are likely to reduce the number of placements offered from September to December as labour shortages bite, according to a recent survey from the Australian Childcare Alliance NSW (ACA).

Nearly one-third of centres will have to close for a day or more in coming months because of a lack of staff, leaving some 34,000 children/families without early education for the final three months of the year.

The ACA has written to Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition Leader Chris Minns about the looming crisis.

“ACA NSW is urgently asking for your personal direct intervention to prevent predicted partial closures and reduction of ECEC services across NSW, especially with 13 weeks before Christmas 2022,” the letter read.

The alliance has proposed a series of reforms that would see red tape cut over the next two years to help address the staff shortage.

Proposals include accepting alternative qualifications for workers, allowing some university students to teach in childcare centres, and converting spot checks and compliance visits to support visits for a finite period.

Early Learning Minister Sarah Mitchell says the government is committed to building the early childhood workforce, making a $15.9 billion commitment to the sector in the budget.

“I cannot support any recommendations that lower the standards of early childhood and care services in NSW,” Ms Mitchell told AAP.

“We must grow the workforce without forsaking children’s safety, particular given these services educate and care for our youngest children.”

The government’s budget investment included the Early Years Commitment focused on attracting and retaining staff and providing workers with more skills, a spokesman for the Department of Education told AAP.

“We will continue to work with the sector to make sure we have more quality educators, so we give children the best start in life,” the spokesman said.

Despite the government’s significant budget commitment, the ACA maintains reform is needed, and says parents will not reap the rewards of the investment before the end of the year.

– AAP

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