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Children's Week ideal time to focus o families.

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Mrs Sophie Mirabella MP Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare, Women and Youth

Governments at all levels need to redouble their efforts to provide support services, advice and practical programs to help parents with young children, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare, Women & Youth Sophie Mirabella said today.

“This week, being National Children’s Week, is an ideal time to re-focus our efforts when it comes to early childhood and community support programs for parents,” Mrs Mirabella said.

“Studies show that the first years of life are most crucial in terms of long-term health and development. Investing in early childhood makes good economic sense - it means that we won’t have to outlay as much in the future trying to address problems that arise in later life.”

Mrs Mirabella said that with the focus on the world economic crisis, it was important that all levels of Government remember the primary importance of children to the nation and that investment in early childhood remain a priority.

“We’ve already had the Treasurer admit it is likely the Government will delay its plan for paid maternity leave, and in the Budget they announced that 85% of the 260 new Childcare Centres they promised during the election won’t even be thought about until after 2010. It’s important the Rudd government doesn’t lose sight of the fact that the welfare of our children and families is paramount,” Mrs Mirabella said.

“Early intervention programs to help teach parenting skills, health and education campaigns on prenatal care, community support programs for children and families at risk, and good quality childcare and preschool services - these are all vital.”

Mrs Mirabella said she was heartened that COAG meetings were focusing on increased investment and government collaboration, with the development of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care.

“The challenge is going to be translating that effort into practical programs that make a tangible difference to families - rather than more “Plans” and ongoing “Committees.”

Mrs Mirabella said Children’s Week was an ideal time to recognise the valuable work that parents do in raising their children, and the ongoing role of grandparents and other family members and carers.

“Of course, the most valuable support system in the world is the family - strong, cohesive families lay the foundation for happy, healthy children and stronger local communities.”

“There’s a lot of public debate about the importance of education and the need to ensure we remain the clever country, but the best way to foster successful learners is to make sure children get the best possible start in life in those early years.”