Early Childhood Australia conducted research on flexible practices and patterns across the early childhood sector, funded in partnership through the Commonwealth Government’s Child Care Flexibility Fund. The purpose of the project was to identify innovative flexible practices being delivered by the early childhood sector, examine how flexible services operate and function and identify barriers restricting current operators being able to increase flexibility for families. The project will also assist the sector to learn from the implementation of flexible practices at other services.
What is flexibility in early childhood services?
Flexibility in early childhood education and care services refers to anything that meets the needs of families. This may involve a whole range of things including, but not limited to:
- non-standard hours
- flexible sessions and enrollment
- working in combination with other services
- flexible location or service delivery
Early childhood flexibility practices and patterns report
This Early Childhood Flexibility Practices and Patterns Report highlights recommendations and future directions for early childhood education and care services and governments in providing flexible arrangements for their families and local communities. The contents of the Report are illustrated through case studies, as well as data from surveys of early childhood services. Click here to view or download the The Early Childhood Flexibility Practices and Patterns Report.
Long day care flexibility survey report
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) conducted a sector wide survey of early childhood education and care services in January and February 2014 to identify the range of flexible practices being implemented by early childhood services. Long day care services were also asked about the barriers to flexible practice and whether they would consider making their services more flexible for families in the future. ECA received 405 responses to the long day care survey, or around 6.4 per cent of all long day care services. The Long Day Care Flexibility Survey Report is available here.
Resources supporting flexible practice
As part of the project, ECA has produced a range of resources to help early childhood services to gain a greater understanding of flexible practice and improve the flexibility of early childhood services for children and families. Early Childhood Australia hopes that these resources are informative and we would welcome your feedback.
The flexibility tip sheets are designed to help services when approaching different forms of flexible practice.
- Tip sheet: Consulting with children and families on flexibility
- Tip sheet: Extended hours
- Tip sheet: Flexible sessions
- Tip sheet: Workplace early childhood services
- Tip sheet: Flexible partnerships with families and communities
The case studies demonstrate some of the innovative flexible practices that are occurring in early childhood services around Australia. They are designed to help services to reflect on their own practices and how they are meeting the needs of children and families in their own communities.
- Case study: Bright Futures Family Day Care
- Case study: Nature Alliance Family Day Care
- Case study: Choices Family Day Care
- Case study: CSSU Early Learning Centre Pannawonica
- Case study: Darling View Early Learning Centre and Queen’s View Early Learning Centre
- Case study: The Ranges Early Learning and Care Centres
- Case study: Franklin Early Childhood School
- Case study: Dorothy Waide Early Learning Centre
Focus on Flexible Sessions
ECA visited Dorothy Waide Early Learning Centre in Griffith NSW, to talk with Neville Dwyer about how the service has implemented flexible sessions for families.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the Child Care Flexibility Trials a project conducted by the Australian Government in 2013 and 2014. The evaluation measured the extent to which the goals and expected outcomes of the trials were achieved, and was based on interviews with and surveys of parents, service providers and other key stakeholders. This paper provides a summary of the key findings from this evaluation.
Read the report here.