Australia’s four-year-olds will be guaranteed affordable access to preschool for another year with the federal government extending its funding pledge. This pledge also covers three year olds who are eligible for equity funding.
The commonwealth and states jointly fund a guaranteed 15 hours a week of preschool for these groups.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham told the National Press Club in Canberra the program would continue in 2018 at a cost of $428 million to the federal budget.
The funding represented $1237 per child regardless of where they attend preschool.
“The 2018 extension of the national partnership agreement will provide certainty and consistency for Australian families, preschools and long day care centres as we implement our school and child care reforms next year,” Senator Birmingham said on Thursday.
“It will also allow for proper discussions with the states and territories on how we fairly guarantee at least 15 hours of preschool beyond that, given the very different models of preschool delivery that apply from one state to another.”
He said for one in two children attending preschool in long day care settings, the government’s childcare reforms would result in a subsidy of preschool costs on average of about $3900 a year.
Australian Education Union acting president Meredith Peace said the extension did not provide long-term investment and funding certainty.
“Every four year old must have access to at least 15 hours of preschool, now and in the future,” she told AAP.
“Preschools will breathe a short sigh of relief that their funding has not been cut for next year, but this funding must be made permanent and ongoing.”
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