How to advocate as an early childhood professional

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Early childhood professionals have an ethical obligation to promote shared aspirations amongst communities in order to enhance children’s health and wellbeing, advocate for the development and implementation of laws and policies that promote child-friendly communities, and to utilise knowledge and research to advocate for universal access to a range of high-quality early childhood programs for all children.

Early childhood professionals have an ethical obligation to be advocates for children and families by virtue of their role. It is important to understand the effect of advocacy and public policy on the lives of children. (Gibbs, 2003, p.9)

ECA Code of Ethics

The ECA Code of Ethics provides a framework to support advocacy on behalf of young children. The core principles in this Code of Ethics are based on the fundamental and prized values of the profession.  They act to guide decision making in relation to ethical responsibilities.  These core principles require a commitment to respect and maintain the rights and dignity of children, families, colleagues and communities.

ECA Code of Ethics: In relation to communities, I will:

  • learn about local community contexts and aspirations in order to create responsive programs to enhance children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • collaborate with people, services and agencies to develop shared understandings and actions that support children and families
  • use research and practice-based evidence to advocate for a society where all children have access to quality education and care
  • promote the value of children’s contribution as citizens to the development of strong communities
  • work to promote increased appreciation of the importance of childhood including how children learn and develop, in order to inform programs and systems of assessment that benefit children
  • advocate for the development and implementation of laws and policies that promote the rights and best interests of children and families.

In early childhood services

  • Provide a quality experience for all young children you work with.
  • ‘Ensure the dignity and rights of every child are maintained at all times’. (NQS Element 5.2.3).
  • Work in partnership with parents and ‘help families access services’ (Gibbs, 2003, p.7) (NQS Quality Area 6).
  • Work with the community to improve children’s developmental outcomes (NQS Quality Area 6).
  • Continually look to improve your skills and knowledge to act in the best interests of children.
  • In particular, develop your leadership capabilities as a professional.

In the public

  • Always act ethically in advocacy for young children.
  • Promote child-friendly communities and advocate for universal access to a range of high-quality early childhood and school age care programs for all children (link to NQS Element 6.3.4).
  • Join early childhood networks like Early Childhood Australia to keep informed and collaborate in shared advocacy. See how Early Childhood Australia advocates.
  • Actively engage (respectfully) on social media, by sharing posts and keeping others informed.
  • Participate and provide feedback to consultations with children’s interests in mind as paramount consideration.
  • Engage with mainstream media e.g. through letters to the editor (Gibbs, 2003, 18).
  • Participate and support campaigns for children’s rights and interests.
  • Actively engage (respectfully) with local public and elected officials on children’s interests.

Current campaigns

Early Learning – Everyone Benefits

Early Learning: Everyone Benefits is a campaign leading Australians to value the benefits of quality early learning for all children, and for Australia’s future prosperity.

Smart Start

The Smart Start campaign aims to educate Australia’s government and communities on the importance of quality early learning. The first five years sets a child up for school and life. The learning habits they develop in these critical years can last a lifetime.

Big Steps

The Big Steps campaign is run by United Voice and it is a campaign for professional pay for early childhood educators. Early childhood educators are paid a third less than those teaching and caring for children just a few years older. It is time for these wages to reflect the essential role we play in shaping the futures of Australian children.

Don’t Mess with our NQF

Community Child Care Co-operative NSW is running this campaign to protect the National Quality Framework. The central premise is that the National Quality Framework will deliver real quality improvements for children in early childhood education and care in this country, through requiring better staff child ratios and more qualified educators.  The campaign aims to ensure that none of the major reforms of the NQF are delayed by Government.