The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund – Have Your Say survey

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund has been established to increase participation in the state’s workforce, particularly for women, by making quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) more affordable and accessible.

To help identify the main issues faced by the early childhood education and care sector, and prioritise future initiatives for the Fund, the Department of Education is committed to consulting with families and the sector.

Have Your Say survey

The ‘Have Your Say’ survey on the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund was open from 12 September to 21 October 2022.

It was published on the NSW Government’s Have Your Say community consultation platform and on the NSW Department of Education website, and promoted in the department’s ECEC newsletters, social media and sector roadshows.

More than 1,000 responses were received from across the state, with over 900 responses from early learning professionals.

Responses from parents and community members were consistent with those provided by early learning professionals summarised below. Parents and community members also emphasised the importance of the ECEC workforce and the challenges in accessing ECEC services.

The survey results identified:

  • access and affordability as the two main issues
  • workforce investment as having the most impact in addressing these issues.

What we heard – key themes

Funding is important

We heard that while funding is critical to the sustainability of ECEC services, the available funding is generally insufficient for many services and funding schemes need to be more flexible. We heard there are gaps, especially when it comes to support for educators caring for children with disability and additional needs.  

Respondents called for more funding and support directed to educators in regional and rural communities, training for future educators, capital projects and more support for children experiencing disadvantage.  

Including children with additional needs

Children experiencing vulnerabilities need more support in their early years to ensure they get as much nurturing, care and education as possible. The need for increased support for children with disability and children with additional needs was consistently called out by respondents to the survey.  

There is an identified need for additional educational resources within services as well as training and funding to support staff. 

Having spaces for children with disabilities or additional needs is extremely important however there needs to be more funding and services that can assist educators to support the children.

Pressures on service viability

Services described a range of pressures on their viability. Many providers pointed to inflationary pressures on rental costs and said they faced a difficult choice between paying staff fair wages and minimising fee increases for families. 

Respondents raised challenges in working with local councils and meeting development application requirements, with parking and other size requirements identified as restricting potential for services to expand.  

We currently have over 100 people on our waiting list… We have space to expand but the fees I can charge this low socio-economic community’s families will not make it viable.

Workforce challenges

Early childhood educators and carers told us they are overworked and/or overwhelmed and many are planning on leaving the profession. The key issues identified are pay, working conditions, increasing administrative burden and lack of resources. There were consistent calls for increased wages, enhanced support for training (including the removal of barriers to accessing upskilling opportunities) and more flexibility for ECEC workers generally.

There can be no increased childcare spaces without the workforce to cover these spaces.
We need to pay staff well to keep them in the profession… respect that all staff are educators not child carers.

Summary of responses

Respondents were based across all ECEC service settings, with majority from long day care.

Service type Percentage
Long day care 58%
Preschool 22%
Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) 9%
Family day care 8%
Other 3%

The short, open-ended survey asked respondents 2 key multiple-choice questions about the main issues the sector is facing, and which approach would have the greatest impact in addressing these challenges. Respondents were then invited to elaborate on their answers.

Cost and accessibility are the most important issues

Question 1: What is the most important issue currently faced by parents and families in accessing affordable early childhood education and care services? Percentage
The cost of early childhood education and care is too high 33%
Parents/families cannot access the type of service they need when they need it 27%
Services provide inadequate access for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or children with special needs 8%
The quality of services is too low 9%
Other* 23%

* ‘Other’ included: limitations on both service capacity and quality caused by workforce shortages (particularly in regional areas), [insufficient] remuneration and staff burnout; as well as administrative burden and regulatory requirements; restrictions for children from culturally diverse and low socio-economic backgrounds resulting from the Child Care Subsidy activity test.

There were some differences between metropolitan and regional respondents. While cost was the most important issue to Sydney and Central Coast respondents, lack of access was the most important issue to respondents in regional NSW. Metropolitan respondents also identified inadequate access for children with special needs as more than 4 times as significant than did regional respondents.

Investment in the ECEC workforce will have the most impact in addressing affordability and access

Question 2: Which approach will have the greatest impact in addressing affordability and access to early childhood education and care services in NSW?’ Percentage
Invest in more early childhood education and care workforce support
Provide more fee relief for families 15%
Assist centres to increase their available places 9%
Target support for centres in more rural or remote locations 6%
Other* 12%

* ‘Other’ included: A multi-pronged approach that includes investment in workforce support, more fee relief for families and more targeted support for centres in rural or remote locations; other workforce supports such as recognition, reviewing regulatory requirements, reducing administrative burden and increasing wages; and addressing the challenges posed to affordability by for-profit services.

Next steps

Over 300 respondents expressed an interest in follow-up consultation on the Fund. They were invited to participate in focus group discussions in early 2023.

Insights from these consultations are contributing to the development of key investment priorities and programs for the Fund.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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