Education versus care for infants and toddlers: the Australian early childhood challenge

Tracy Redman*, Linda J. Harrison, Emilia Djonov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This commentary contributes to addressing a worldwide challenge by examining how the education versus care debate has unfolded in Australia, with a particular focus on infant-toddler programs, where the educational aspect is less well understood and appreciated. It offers a unique perspective by bringing together aspects of the debate that are frequently written about in isolation. Specifically, the commentary opens with an overview of the history of the education and care divide in Australia and then examines how more recent political agendas and regulatory and qualification requirements have sustained this divide, shaping the perceptions and status of those working in the sector. Drawing on historians, Australian policy, empirical studies of the perspective of educators and parents, and evidence of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we argue that to bridge the divide, care needs to be understood as underpinning all aspects of the education of infants and toddlers.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Infants
  • toddlers
  • childcare
  • care
  • education
  • COVID-19


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