22 per cent of Australian children start school without strong foundations, MP says
22 per cent of Australian children are starting school without the foundation they need through preschool and early learning, leaving them at a disadvantage, Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman has said, following yesterday’s announcement by the New South Wales Labor party of “the largest investment in early childhood education in NSW history”.
Ms Templeman highlighted the further challenges faced by the children in her electorate with additional needs, saying that Hawkesbury children with additional needs are waiting up to 18 months for early intervention assessments and services, following Federal and state government changes to the early intervention support system.
“Directors of local preschools have told me that, under the changes, some children could start school without receiving the early support they need. They’re concerned about delays for children who qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and that no services are available for children who don’t qualify for the NDIS due to NSW Government funding decisions and long waiting lists at NSW Health,” Ms Templeman said.
Local media source, The Hawkesbury Gazette, reported a round table meeting between Ms Templeman, local early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers, the Shadow Minister for NDIS, Linda Burney, and concerned parents in the local area in relation to the challenges.
“We heard many stories of how the changes are causing children to fall through the cracks – some who would qualify for assistance under NDIS, and others who need intervention services and supports for behavioural issues not covered by the NDIS,” Ms Templeman said.
“When you’re talking about a 3 or 4 year old child, that means they may not see someone for help until they’re ready to start school. That’s too late. It’s an unacceptable situation.”
The Gazette reports Ms Burney as saying that “early intervention was crucial to enabling children with a disability to live life to their fullest potential, and the federal and NSW governments had dropped the ball on access to early intervention in the Hawkesbury.”
The full coverage, as provided by the Gazette may be accessed here.
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