Funding for the early education sector is set to double after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announces the 2022-23 federal budget will focus on children in their last year of pre-schooling.
The early childhood education preschool reform agreement promised $166.7 million between 2021-22, and is getting a $454.6 million upgrade for all states this budget year in a four-year plan.
Commencing from 2022 to 2025, this agreement promises universal access to at least 15 hours of preschool each week (600 hours per year) for children in the year before they start school. It is also set to improve preschool enrolment, attendance and outcomes for children.
“15 hours (each week per child) is not enough at all… a child needs more than two days to be prepared to go to school.”
The early childhood education preschool agreement will be an upgrade from the previous year’s program, now called the Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.
Robyn Evans principal of Casula public school and president of the NSW Primary Principals Association spoke with Central News about early childhood funding in the budget.
“Many of our students in some of our lower socio-economic and regional areas don’t have accessibility to preschool services…those things that we set kids up within their pre-learning as they come into school, isn’t there.” Said Mr Evans.
Evans is also an advocate of early childhood education adding that in,“the highest performing countries across the world, their preschool services and accessibility is second to none”.
Evans believes that Australia is falling behind in support for this age group;
“It’s like every child goes to preschool before coming into school. Australia doesn’t have that agency support, and therefore our kids aren’t getting that for free.”
FACES Childcare centre manager Ilba Apps spoke to Central News on the universal access to early childhood education program and her disappointment with previous budget promises.
“We’re hoping to see the money, but in the past, it hasn’t been the case,” Said Mrs Apps.
She believes that the current budget doesn’t go far enough to prepare children before entering primary school.
“Fifteen hours (each week per child) is not enough at all. It is not enough long day-care centre, it means children will go two days a week to learn all the social skills, to learn all the cognitive, fine motor, all the gross motor skills.. a child needs more than two days to be prepared to go to school,” says Mrs Apps.
Main photos on creative commons by treehouse1977