NSW Budget 2018-19

NSW Government to subsidise preschool for three year olds and will lead the nation on this initiative.

The 2018/19 State Budget includes $197.8 million allocated over four years to extend NSW Government’s commitment to Start Strong.

From 1 January 2019, Start Strong subsidies will be extended to all 3 year olds who are enrolled at community preschools, and will be continued for all children in the year before school.

Children from Aboriginal families, and families who are vulnerable or disadvantaged and children with disability and additional needs will continue to receive extra support.

This policy extension is supported by additional funding that will create new community preschool places in areas of high demand and need.

What are the targeted areas for this policy boost?

  1. Extending funding to all three-year olds in community preschools from 2019 to ensure universal access to two years of early childhood education.
  2. $42.1 million in extra capital works grants over four years to support the creation of 4,800 new community preschool places in growth areas. Funding may be used to increase the capacity of an existing preschool or to build a new service.
  3. Continuing Start Strong funding for preschool education for children in the year before school.

This funding allocation brings NSW in line with international policy and the consensus that participation in two years of high quality early childhood education delivers greater benefits than one year alone.

NSW now leads the nation as the first jurisdiction to fund universal access to two years of high quality preschool in community preschools.

The funding extension in NSW will ensure 3 year olds have the opportunity to access a quality preschool program, as well as children attending preschool programs in the year before school.

How is funding to the sector different under this new policy?

From 2019 the Start Strong program will be funded in line with demand and population growth.

A growing child population and increasing participation in early childhood education requires corresponding increases in Government funding to maintain Start Strong levels of funding. Child population data show that the number of three, four and five year old children in NSW will increase by 6 per cent by 2021.

Community preschools across the State will be better supported to avoid financial viability issues or the need to raise fees for families due to low enrolments.  This funding process supports the participation of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

What are the benefits of this new policy?

  • Improved access, lower fees and improved affordability for families whose children attend community preschools.
  • Universal access for all 3 year olds in community preschools will enable services to maximise the enrolment of 3 year olds during periods of low 4 year old enrolments which will improve the business viability of services, especially in regional and remote areas.
  • Stronger student performance in NAPLAN and PISA, increased likelihood of university attendance, higher lifetime earnings and better health outcomes are all linked to two years of quality preschool education.

How will this new policy impact equity and middle income families?

  • Research tells us that disadvantaged children benefit most from participating in mixed social groups in preschool programs, and universal access reduces any perceived social differences associated with targeted funding based on disadvantage.
  • Universal access will ensure all 3 year olds will have an opportunity to access two years of a quality preschool program and reduces any perceived stigma associated with funding for equity 3 year olds only.

How does this new policy relate to the current Australian educational landscape?

  • This NSW Budget commitment is in line with recommendations from both the recent report Through Growth to Achievement, and the complementary early childhood report, Lifting our Game.
  • The announcement of this increased allocation of funding ensures the NSW Government maintains its commitment to providing all children with access to high quality preschool programs, regardless of what their circumstances are or where they live, and despite uncertain Commonwealth funding.

Category:  2018 ,

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