Record breaking investment in the early years promised by NSW Labor ahead of election
Should it be successful in winning the upcoming state election, to be held 23 March, the New South Wales Labor Party has today committed to extending state funded early learning to all three year olds, as part of the “largest investment in early childhood education in NSW history”.
The announcement, made today by NSW Labor leader, Michael Daley, and Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Kate Washington, forms part of a half a billion dollar package in support of early childhood in NSW.
Currently, fewer than 20 per cent of three year olds in NSW receive state government funding, Mr Daley said, adding “The experts tell us that early childhood is one of the most crucial periods for a child’s learning and development. A NSW Labor Government will ensure that young children in these vital years are given the best chance of success.”
The half billion dollar package is to be jointly funded with Federal Labor, should they be successful in winning a Federal election, and will prioritise education and preschool through:
- Funding three-year-olds in long day care (LDC) centres for the first time, and then doubling the current funding per three- and four-year-olds in LDC centres
- Immediately increasing three-year-old funding in community preschools – doubling the sitting Government’s proposed funding for three-year-olds in 2019-20. Under the current funding proposal, three-year-olds are only due to receive one quarter of the funding that four-year-olds receive in community preschools.
- Investing $292 million into a ‘Little Kids Big Futures’ fund – driving a massive increase in early childhood education access and participation across NSW. This fund will support “communities with critical service gaps, improve access for disadvantaged students, boost mobile preschool services in rural and remote areas, and invest in Playgroups NSW services as a pathway to preschooling”.
- Launching an $18 million ‘Specialist Early Intervention’ trial program – ensuring young children receive the support they need. Increasingly, early education services are crucial to the identification of learning difficulties, disabilities and other health-related issues. This trial program will boost access to allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and psychologists for three and four-year-olds in early education.
- Starting a $5 million ‘Early Childhood Education Professional Development’ program – providing support and training for early childhood education teachers and educators.
- Establishing an additional $15 million capital grants fund to address critical service gaps throughout NSW – increasing access and participation through additional and expanded services.
- Boosting funding for assessment and rating experts by $4 million.
The new funding proposal, Ms Washington said, is about building “the strong foundation needed for success in school and later in life”.
“We’ve consulted with the sector to develop these policies, and we are focused on improving quality early learning outcomes, increasing access, driving greater participation, and reducing fees for families”
The funding announcement follows a commitment to the early years by the Australian Labor Party at a Federal level, and a commitment by the NSW Labor party to ensure that all new public primary schools have preschool, LDC or outside school hours care (OSHC) services on site.
A range of measures to sit alongside the funding were also announced, namely:
- The establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Panel with broad sector representation, to meet at least quarterly
- The review and improvement of OSHC and mobile preschool tendering processes
- The development of a long term early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector road map, in consultation with the sector
The announcement was “warmly welcomed” by Executive Director of The Parenthood, Alys Gagnon, who described the commitments as “ambitious”.
“Mums, dads and carers in NSW have been looking for renewed leadership from state politicians on early learning, and this announcement represents that,” Ms Gagnon said.
The commitment by NSW Labor to include three year old children attending LDC in the funding was especially pleasing, with Ms Gagnon saying parents and carers would be “delighted” by the decision, as five in every six three year old children currently experience their early learning in LDC settings.
Likewise, Ms Gagnon noted the additional investment by NSW Labor in supporting children in vulnerable communities through the ‘Little Kids Big Futures’ fund, saying “It’s difficult to overstate the benefits of a high quality, play-based early education, for all children, but especially those with developmental vulnerabilities”