More family friendly hours on the way for SA preschool programs
The Sector > Jobs News > More family friendly hours on the way for SA preschool programs

More family friendly hours on the way for SA preschool programs

by Freya Lucas

August 31, 2023

The South Australian Government has initiated a trial of more ‘family friendly’ hours for government preschool programs at 20 preschool sites, specifically in regions of capacity need such as the northern, northeastern and suburbs.


Government preschools are run using a sessional model, usually offering care for preschool-aged children from around 9am-3pm. In contrast, most non-government preschools offer long day care, from around 7am-6pm. This makes decisions for working families more difficult due to accessibility.


A government representative noted that families rely on outside school hours care (OSHC) provision for their school-aged children, but often OSHC services are not set up for preschool-aged children and increasingly do not accept enrolments for preschool students.


Many families need care for their preschool-aged children outside of regular preschool operating hours, so the trials will test how different models of a preschool OSHC could work in both school-based and standalone preschool settings.


Operational models for these trials will be tested this year and rolled out in specified locations in 2024, including Adams Road Children’s Centre.


The SA Department for Education will seek expressions of interest from preschools who would like to take part in the trial, with particular emphasis on communities with higher levels of disadvantage in these regions:

*Outer Northern Adelaide and Gawler

*Outer Southern Adelaide

*SA’s major regional centres including Mount Gambier, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Whyalla, and Port Lincoln

*Outer regional SA communities including Fleurieu Peninsula, Mid-North, Flinders Ranges/Mount Remarkable, Yorke and Eyre Peninsula

*Metropolitan Adelaide, in areas of disadvantage.


As a result of consultation during the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), the Government learnt there is a need for government preschools to provide care options that meet the changing needs of working families.


In addition to the trial of OSHC in preschools, more than $10 million has been committed to increase support for OSHC services run on public school sites and to reform how these services are governed. This responds to the findings of the Royal Commission about the difficulties school governing councils have in effectively operating high-quality OSHC programs.


The Government is also committed to changing the structure of required OSHC qualifications so more staff will be available to ease workforce shortages. This is in addition to the changes made earlier this year to widen the accepted range of qualifications for OSHC educators.


SA will also invest $7 million in the Education Standards Board, South Australia’s regulatory body for the ECEC sector to increase the regularity of assessment and rating of OSHC and early childhood services across South Australia. 


This, representatives note, is a critical aspect of ensuring that quality programs are offered right through the early years and that OSHC services will form a fundamental aspect of how South Australia plans to achieve its ambitious early education reform.

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