SSSHARC Research Impact Accelerator 2024

Posted on March 11, 2024

A research team I am part of is one of the six teams that have been selected to participate in the SSSHARC (Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre) Research Impact Accelerator for 2024. I am looking forward to participating in the program. The project is being led by Associate Professor Luara Ferracioli. The other team members are Professor Liz Hill and former Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully. Here is a short description of the project:

The early childhood education and care (ECEC) system in Australia is broken. It no longer serves the public good, as research into economic productivity and workplace participation reveals. It no longer serves the interests of parents, particularly women, as research into parental preferences and gender inclusion reveals. And it no longer serves the interests of children, as research into childhood development and early childhood education gaps reveal. We need an ECEC system for the 21st century. And we need a policy framework that can help deliver one. Unfortunately, existing policy frameworks are not fit for purpose. The current policy framework around ECEC offers piecemeal solutions drawing opportunistically on an array of distinct and competing values. This project seeks to develop a more adequate policy framework and facilitate its uptake in existing policy discussion. The project will focus on fundamental values that are often overlooked in existing policy debates. It will broaden the focus of the debate beyond considerations of productivity, workplace participation, and gender equality, to include considerations bearing on the present and future interests of children, considerations of equity and social equality, and considerations around the shape and value of family life in the 21st century. It will consider how these values relate to the current policy settings of free markets, consumer choice, and the for-profit model. To this end, the project will draw on recent theories of the goods of childhood and theories of educational justice to flesh out the present and future interests of children. It will build on research into equity, gender equality, and the value of the family, to develop a framework for balancing considerations of social justice against the values of economic efficiency and parental autonomy. The value of this is clear: as developmental research reveals, we can no longer ignore questions of equity and equality until children enter school.