NSW announces $115 million funding to make early childhood education more affordable

NSW government preschool fees to be slashed by 30% under new initiative to boost attendance

The NSW Government is cutting preschool fees by an average of 30 per cent to encourage more parents to enrol their children in early childhood education. The initiative is perhaps the largest single preschool fee reduction in NSW history.

The New South Wales preschool fees will be slashed by a third, Premier Mike Baird has announced, after a review by the auditor general found parents were keeping children out of the crucial year due to exorbitant costs.

As part of the NSW Government’s commitment to provide universal access to quality early childhood education, fees will be reduced to an average $22 per day where a child is enrolled to attend a minimum 15 hours per week.

“Research shows that children who receive a quality early childhood education in the year before starting school are better prepared to transition to school and benefits carry through to adulthood,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said.

“This $115 million funding boost will enable more children to participate in 600 hours – or about 15 hours per week – of early childhood education in community preschools and long day care centres.”

Starting from 1 January 2017, community preschools across the state who enrol four and five year old children for at least 600 hours in the year before school will receive increased subsidies from the NSW Government.

Funding per child will increase to between $4,250 to $6,600 – a maximum increase of 130 percent on current per four and five-year-old child subsidies.

“This will enable preschools to reduce fees by an average of 30 per cent per child and services will be contractually required to pass on at least 75 per cent of additional funding to parents in the form of reduced fees,” Minister for Early Childhood Education, Leslie Williams said.

“This will be the largest single preschool fee reduction in NSW history,” Ms Williams said.

In March, an analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data revealed NSW preschools were the most poorly attended in the country.

Just two-thirds of the state’s four and five-year-olds were attending the recommended 15 hours per week, well below the national average of 86 per cent.

Early childhood experts warned at the time that the state’s children were at risk of being left behind.

“We have listened to the sector and to parents and we are committed to making a quality childhood education affordable for all.

“We also acknowledge feedback from the Auditor-General who recommended that funding be tied to 600 hours enrolments, and removing the barriers to access.

“The funding will not only make early childhood education more affordable but will also remove nearly all fees for children from Aboriginal and low-income families at preschools.”

Community Child Care Co-operative (CCCC) and Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA) has welcomed the additional investment in preschool programs as a positive step towards increasing access and affordability for four to five year olds in the year before school.

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