Improved access to ECEC for rural and regional families in NSW with $20m trial
Families in rural and regional NSW will have improved access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) when and where they need it most following the launch of a new trial grants program.
The Flexible Initiatives Trial has a pool of $20 million over two years, which will be made available through grants to fund new or adapted operating models. It has been designed to empower providers to better cater to the needs of local families, recognising communities across the state face different challenges when it comes to accessing ECEC.
In outer regional, remote and very remote areas of NSW, the trial will support the establishment of new family day care services.
For providers who cater for parents in major regional centres such as Wollongong, the Central Coast and Newcastle, who may be commuting to Sydney for work, adaptations may look like:
- Extended hours of care beyond traditional working hours
- Flexible pick-up and drop-off times
- Improved access to ad hoc care arrangements outside of scheduled hours.
Smaller and more dispersed communities could also benefit from:
- Funding for staff recruitment
- Transport for eligible children to and from care
- Partnerships between two different service types to provide extended or wrap-around care arrangements.
“The Flexible Initiatives Trial is a part of our commitment to addressing concerns about choice and availability of quality early childhood education and care experiences for every child,” said Acting Deputy Secretary of Early Childhood Outcomes Mark Barraket.
“The trial is not a one size fits all model, it is designed around the needs of each community. How it will look in Wollongong or Newcastle is very different to the new or adapted operating models that will be trialled in our state’s west.”
Applications are now open for the first round of the program, and close on 1 December 2023.
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