A majority of parents of young children in the ACT support higher salaries for early childhood educators, a survey has found.
The Children First Alliance, a group of nine early learning education and care providers in the ACT, surveyed 786 parents of children in early learning centres and found 89 per cent supported higher wages for staff, 7 per cent were unsure, 1 per cent did not support higher wages.
Of the 3 per cent of parents who responded "other", they mostly gave in-principle support as long as the increase in salaries would not increase the cost to families.
The survey found 84 per cent of parents saw educators as a trusted source of knowledge about their child's development and wellbeing.
The results have been released on Early Childhood Educator's Day and shortly after the release of the ACT government's early childhood strategy.
Alliance co-chair and chief executive of Community Services #1 Amanda Tobler said the tumultuous year had put a spotlight on the professionalism of workers in the sector.
"We've had smoke, we've had fires, we've had hail and now we've had a pandemic and our educators across all of our services have continued to provide the best quality education and care to children. Personally I think that's pretty amazing."
She said it was pleasing to see that valuing the work of early childhood educators and professionalising their pay and conditions was a key part of the ACT's new strategy.
"I think that everyone clearly understands that early education and care staff are very low paid staff and I don't think anyone would be saying that they shouldn't be higher paid.
"It's about how we do that and we continue to advocate to the Commonwealth government to support that to happen."
The ACT government's Set Up for Success strategy reiterates the territory's plan to roll out universal access for 15 hour of preschool per week for three-year-olds over the next 10 years.
The strategy estimates 500 to 600 vulnerable three-year-old children miss out on early childhood education and care services in the ACT each year. These children were the target of a pilot program for free access to 15 hours of education and care per week from this year.
Ms Tobler said the sector would continue to advocate for universal access to two years of preschool.
"We know that early education and care is the best way to ensure children have the best outcomes in their social, their emotional, their psychological and educational opportunities going forward.
"I'm very glad to see that is a major keystone of their strategy and we will support them to find a way to make that happen here in the ACT."
Ahead of the ACT election in October, the Children First Alliance has also called on parties to commit to investing $800,000 a year for a professional development fund as well as investing in flexible transport solutions to help some families overcome barriers to getting to early learning centres.
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