The New South Wales Campaign for Improved Staff Ratios for Babies in Centre-Based ECEC (2002-2009): Influences on Politicians' Decisions

By Bown, Kathryn | Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, September 2013 | Go to article overview

The New South Wales Campaign for Improved Staff Ratios for Babies in Centre-Based ECEC (2002-2009): Influences on Politicians' Decisions


Bown, Kathryn, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood


Introduction

'I think the challenges were always going to be that it was about babies, and in society, that's not necessarily high on everybody's agenda.' (ECR5 Cassandra, interview transcript)

Politicians play a key role in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy landscape. Their decisions directly affect the way ECEC is experienced by children, educators and families. While politicians are key to shaping ECEC policy, research on politicians' decision making in ECEC, and particularly research involving politicians as participants, is still relatively new (Bown, Sumsion & Press, 2009; Bradley, 2011). This paper contributes to this small but growing literature by reporting on a study investigating influences on politicians' decision making in ECEC policy in Australia. Specifically, the article reports a case study investigation of a longstanding campaign by parts of the early childhood profession in one Australian state to change the minimum regulated staff-child ratios for children aged birth to two years (hereafter referred to as 'babies') from 1:5 to 1:4. In New South Wales (NSW) at the time this study was conducted, staff--child ratios were mandated in the Children's Services Regulation 2004, administered by the Department of Community Services (DoCS). In presenting the findings of the case study, this article generates an 'eventalization' (Foucault, 1991) to understand the role of influence in ECEC policy.

The ratios campaign (hereafter referred to as 'the campaign') was marked by extensive debate within the sector and with politicians in the years 2002-2009. The campaign was characterised by activism from predominantly community-based organisations and service providers to reduce the staff-child ratio for centre-based ECEC from 1:5 to 1:4 for children under two years; these efforts were countered by an equally strong resistance to the proposed change from predominantly for-profit organisations and service providers. In 2008, the 'One to four, make it law' campaign realised its goal when the then NSW Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, announced that the minimum adult to child ratio for children birth to two years in centre-based early childhood settings would be reduced to 1:4, commencing January 2011 (Burney, 2008, 23 October), some eight years after the campaign was initiated.

Yet, as the participant whose quote began this article articulated, babies have rarely been high on political agendas. Indeed, I have argued elsewhere (Bown, Sumsion & Press, 2011) that community service portfolios, which have often encompassed the ECEC portfolio, are not often high political priorities. How is it then that the 1:4 ratio was finally promised by Minister Burney? What happened that paved the way for such a choice to be made possible? How can the notion of 'influence' be analysed in the ratio campaign? What can be learned by early childhood activists to inform future policy activism efforts?

To respond to these questions, I analysed data collected from interviews with politicians and key ECEC stakeholders involved in the ratio campaign, and relevant policy texts. The analysis uses the Foucaultian method of 'eventalizing' which involves 'analysing an event according to the multiple processes which constitute it' (Foucault, 1991, p. 76). I argue that during the years of the campaign, national and international events generated an opportunity for early childhood activists that had not previously been available. The movement of power relations enabled a new discourse to be taken up by politicians that had long been advocated by ECEC activists. Taking up a new discourse to some extent brought issues of equity and quality to the fore in ECEC policy.

The article begins by outlining the theoretical framework guiding the analysis of the case study investigation. An explanation of the methodology, including initial processes of data analysis, follows. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The New South Wales Campaign for Improved Staff Ratios for Babies in Centre-Based ECEC (2002-2009): Influences on Politicians' Decisions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.