Queensland children living with disability supported through $63.6 million in funding
Funding will continue for early childhood development programs and services supporting children living with a disability, aged zero to five, Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace announced yesterday, formalising a commitment made in the recently announced Budget 2019/20.
Ms Grace said the four-year, $63.3 million funding commitment would ensure that eligible children continued to receive tailored support from teachers and teacher aides to help them develop the knowledge and skills they need as they prepare for the important transition to school.
The early childhood development programs (ECDPs) provide early intervention to children who require intensive, multi-disciplinary programs to develop skills and behaviours to maximise their participation in schooling, Ms Grace said.
Demand for the programs has remained high since 2014, with parents of children aged three to five years of age especially wanting access to the service. Currently approximately 1800 children are registered with one or more ECDP across Queensland.
“These programs will continue to be available to eligible children under five years of age, who have been diagnosed, or are suspected of having certain disabilities.” Ms Grace said.
The children who access the programs live with a range of disabilities including autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, hearing impairment, physical impairment, speech language impairment or vision impairment.
The funding commitment means that all of the 102 ECDPs currently operating will remain open for registrations, which are largely driven by local needs and the availability of other supports and services in the community, Ms Grace said.
As part of the funding continuation announcement, Ms Grace also announced close to $650,000 in funding for staff professional development in ECDPs which will assist them in collaborating with other providers to build on good practice.
Queensland Association of Special Education Leaders (QASEL) president, Roselynne Anderson, enthusiastically commended the 2019 Queensland State Budget in terms of the provisions made for the disability education sector.
“The commitment to the continuation of our highly valued ECDPs will continue the highly effective wraparound programs and services provided by ECDPs into the future,” Ms Anderson said.
“QASEL also commends the provision in this budget of extra teachers and teacher aides to support the best possible learning outcomes for all students with disability.”
For more information about ECDPs, including a list of locations and information about how to access them, visit the website here.