NSW Budget 2018-19 – Good news for the early childhood sector
The NSW government has allocated $197.8 million to extend its investment in early childhood education under Start Strong, to ensure NSW children can access a high-quality preschool program for two years.
This investment will support an increase in participation rates for three-year-olds and improve affordability for families through a reduction of fees.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell to reinforce the budget announcement to media, announcing that NSW will be the first state in Australia to provide universal access to community preschool for three-year-olds across the state.
From 1 January 2019 community preschool subsidies will be extended to all enrolled 3 year olds. Funding to children who are in the year before school, from Aboriginal families, or who are experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage will continue.
The early childhood education sector has been a strong advocate for funding all children to attend preschool in the two years before school and is recognised as an important partner in achieving this policy extension.
Minister Mitchell said the NSW Government is leading the nation when it comes to delivering universal access to two years of high quality preschool.
“We know early childhood education has a significant impact on a child’s future and will ensure children in NSW are given every opportunity to have the best start in life – and I’m proud this state is leading the country on ensuring children have access to two years of quality early childhood education while ensuring cost is no barrier,” Mrs Mitchell said.
This initiative is supported by capital works funding that will help create new community preschool places in areas of high demand and need. This will ensure children continue to have access to high quality preschool as the population grows, in a climate where Commonwealth funding is increasingly uncertain.
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.
The extended funding will be distributed through a demand driven model, so there will be support directed to areas of the state where it’s most needed, with flow on effects to expand access and improve the quality of preschool programs in NSW.
Demand driven funding for early childhood education is consistent with schools funding and will enable the department to embed educational benefits over time in line with population growth. It establishes early childhood education as part of a continuum and recognises the significance of learning in the early years.
Extending support for Start Strong demonstrates the NSW government’s commitment to early childhood education as an essential part of the education continuum. This 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 Premier's media release can be found here:
Minister Mitchell’s budget announcements can be found on the department’s website
Category: July 2018,