NSW extends COVID-19 Free Preschool policy in Budget 2021/22
Children from across New South Wales will continue to benefit from the 2021-22 NSW Budget, with the State’s Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell sharing that $726 million out of a total education budget of $20.5 billion has been earmarked for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, an increase of 9 per cent on last year.
Ms Mitchell outlined the Government’s position that successful lifelong learning starts at birth, a perspective supported by the Government’s investment in early childhood under the Brighter Beginnings initiative and the free preschool program.
“This is a record $725 million investment in Early Childhood Education, providing NSW children with a strong start to life and learning,” Ms Mitchell said.
The majority of funding will be used to support universal access to quality preschool programs for eligible four year olds in the year before school in both community and long day care settings, and for eligible three year olds attending preschool programs through a community preschool setting via the established Start Strong Preschool Program.
However, in addition to this ongoing commitment the Government has agreed to allocate a further $150 million to extend the COVID-19 free Preschool policy for children attending community preschools.
A summary of the commitments in this year’s budget are as follows:
- Continued delivery of the NSW Start Strong Preschool Program in both community preschools and long day care centres for four year olds and community preschools for three year olds. Although a dollar amount was not disclosed it is believed to be in excess of last year’s commitment of $542 million.
- Delivery of a new program to continue providing cost of living support for parents and give community preschools additional funding support via the provision of Free Preschool for school year 2022. The total funds allocated amounts to $150 million and is conditional on the provision of at least 600 hours of free preschool per year to all eligible preschool children
- Continuation of capital works grant funding to support the creation of additional community preschool places.
The Working Towards Quality Support Program in conjunction with the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) will continue to be delivered in 2021/22 with funding of $6 million over two years provided in the 2020/21 budget.
To review this year’s budget please click here.