By CELA on 20 Jun, 2018

NSW announces funding for two years of preschool education for three-year-olds in community based preschools.

Led by advocacy and research, the NSW Government announced in this week’s budget, that all three-year olds in community based preschools will receive subsidised funding for fees from 2019.

Sarah Mitchell (Minister for Early Education, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and Assistant Minister for Education) has championed this extension of universal access. CELA congratulates Minister Mitchell for her role in striving for better outcomes for children.

Shift in focus

The announcement will broaden the NSW Government’s focus from its position since 2014 of funding only the year before school (600 hours) and three-year-old children who qualified for subsidies under state equity criteria.

This position had challenged many community preschool providers who felt that three-year-old children were missing out on early education because of the cost and availability of positions. However, this initiative under the Start Strong program has seen preschool enrolments rise to cover 94% of all four-year-old children.

One year good, two years better

Research by the Mitchell Institute and others shows conclusively that two years of quality preschool education is required to see powerful changes in children’s learning outcomes at school and in life.

It’s an even more positive act, then, that rather than sitting tight on its mandatory achievements for four-year-old enrolments, NSW has listened to the sector, accepted the research, and extended funding subsidies to three-year-olds from 2019.

Assessing the value

The full ramifications of the new funding are still being assessed, and CELA is developing case studies with its members and will feed the information back to the regulatory authority.

So far we have spoken to members who overwhelmingly support the decision and are starting to think about opportunities and challenges around implementation. Other members strongly support the extension of two years of affordable education to all children in other service types who make up the vast majority of children.

We’ll bring you more analysis as we work through the implications with our members.

Lifting our game

Australia’s states and territories and the Commonwealth Government have been in a standoff over universal access funding, continuing to glare across the COAG Education Council table at each other with a temporary funding offer of 12 months from the Commonwealth this year.

The difference in attitudes is shown starkly in the Lifting Our Game report commissioned by all the state and territory regulatory authorities without involving the Commonwealth.

The report, connected to David Gonski’s most recent research and policy work, analyses Australia’s collective efforts in early childhood education under universal access policies, along with three-year-old preschool programs, and makes an inarguable case that two years of preschool education must be funded if the Australian Government is to have any hope of improving school education outcomes.

Watch this space!

NSW announcement details

Research shows that universal access of two years of high quality preschool will deliver the greatest benefits, including significantly improving social and academic outcomes, increased lifetime earnings, health and wellbeing. The Best start in life for children through early education announcement will see a total spend of $474.3m in 2018-19 invested in:

  • Funding to all three year olds in community preschools from 2019 to ensure universal access to two years of early childhood education under a $197.8m program. NSW Government subsidies to all 3 year olds who are enrolled in community preschools from January 1, 2019.
  • Continuing Start Strong funding for preschool education in community preschools and long day care services, for children in the year before school and equity three year olds, underpinned by a demand based funding model that responds to population growth.
  • Creating 4800 new community preschool places in growth areas with $42.1 million in extra capital grants funding over four years.
  • The introduction of the Start Strong Pathways Program which targets the early learning needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children too young for preschool and supports pathways into early childhood education.
  • Continued funding for the Rural and Remote Early Childhood Teaching Scholarships programs which support early childhood educators in preschools and long day care services to upgrade their diploma qualification to a four-year degree.
  • Ongoing support for the Sector Development Program which provides training, support and resources to build sector capacity in alignment with government priorities
  • Continued funding to enhance participation and educational outcomes in early childhood education for children with a disability.

This represents a 6.6% increase in expenditure rom $444.5m to $474.3m

Equipping teachers with the best skills for educating our young people.

With a total spend of $163m for regulation and accreditation delivered through the New South Wales Education Standard Authority (NESA).  This includes the approval of teacher education courses, the accreditation of teachers and early childhood educators and the development of professional teaching standards.

This represents 11.4% increase in expenditure rom $144.9m to $161.4m

The best start in life

In the interest of protecting and improving the wellbeing of new parents and their babies.  In this budget, the Government is investing in a landmark $156.5m Parent Package.  Some of the key initiatives include:

  • $9.3m to provide 100 more midwives
  • $7.6m NSW Baby Bundle providing new parents with essential items to assist in their child’s early health and development
  • $7.6m for additional support new mums in the first months of their baby’s life, including extra nurse home visits, greater access to virtual home visits, five additional Family Care Centre Hubs in rural and regional locations, and increased services for pregnant women and mothers with severe and complex mental illness.

If you’re a CELA member with questions, please call or email the team, if you’re not a member yet, take a look at what you could gain by joining.

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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