NSW 2019-20 Budget follows through on pre state election ECEC policy commitments
The New South Wales (NSW) Government have handed down their 2019-20 State Budget in which their commitments to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) related funding increases are largely consistent with promises made in last years budget and in the run up to the NSW State Election in March.
By far the largest portion of the spending is being allocated to the “Best start in life for young children” outcome stream that includes the Start Strong program which supports access to preschool education in both community preschools, and, to a lesser extent, long day care centres.
A total of $526.7 million has been allocated to this outcome stream, up from $474.3 million in 2018-19.
The funding will be used to support Universal Access to quality preschool programs for eligible four year olds in the year before school, regardless of setting, and for eligible three year olds attending preschool programs through a community preschool setting only.
In addition to the overall commitment to their flagship program, the following commitments were made in the 2019-20 Budget, all of which were flagged in the run up to the NSW election:
- Capital grants to build, renovate or extend facilities – $20 million over four years has been allocated for new and existing community preschools to build, renovate or extend their facilities to cater for increasing enrolments across the state.
- Support for Playgroup NSW – $1.8 million over two years has been provided to support Playgroup NSW to establish ‘Play Strong’ playgroups to support early learning pathways for vulnerable communities across New South Wales.
- OSHC in public primary schools expansion – $120 million over four years to expand before and after school care, making it available to all parents with children at public primary schools by 2021.
Notably, no specific mention was made in the budget papers of any new funding allocations to support the ECEC workforce, although it is understood that the NSW Government continues to progress it’s Early Childhood Education Workforce Strategy (ECEWS) project that was launched in 2018.