Social practices and community values and issues are always in the
process of redefinition and reconstruction. This means that our
views on what is appropriate for children’s care and education are
constantly changing. Nineteenth and 20th century models of early
childhood care and education, including regulatory and staffing
models are often not appropriate for 21st century children and
Recent media and policy focus on child care and early education
issues is well overdue. Finally, the volumes of research showing the
benefits of strong, rich early childhood programs on children’s
development and learning have captured community attention.
Quality early childhood programs help children reach key
developmental milestones and have longer term social and
academic benefits for students and families. Now, this knowledge
must translate into vision and action for improved quality.
This chapter foreshadows greater regulation in early childhood
care and education and proposes a registration scheme for early
childhood practitioners, accreditation of early childhood
practitioner preparation programs, and a set of standards for
professional practice. It highlights the links between quality inputs
(environment and staffing) and quality outputs (children’s
development and learning), and stresses the importance of getting
the right staffing mix in early childhood settings. Generally, the
concept of regulated pathways to practice is well established.
However, while there is wide agreement on the importance of
regulatory pathways to professional practice, there is less
understanding about how these could benefit the complex and
idiosyncratic early childhood sector.