Lower preschool fees for NSW families

21 March 2013

Preschool fees for 4 and 5-year olds will be more affordable for NSW families with the NSW Government immediately injecting $20 million into preschools Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced today.

A $5 million capital works fund will also be established to ease preschool supply and access issues in targeted areas around the state.

"This $25 million initiative is part of the NSW Government move towards giving all children access to a preschool education program delivered by a qualified teacher in the 12 months prior to starting formal schooling," Mr Piccoli said.

"Across NSW this will lead to fee reductions for families of up to 26%. In regional NSW the reduction will be up to 52%.

"These fee reductions will give children of families from low socio-economic circumstances greater access to preschool education, something many of them are missing out on now."

"Here at KU Randwick Coogee a family with a 4 year old attending preschool three days a week will save about $450 between the beginning of Term 2 and the end of this year. At KU Bulli in Wollongong the saving will be $900, at KU Koala in Wagga Wagga $930, and at KU Conjola Place in Hammondville $950."

The fee reductions will be delivered through a funding boost to services, and this must be passed on to families with enrolled children who will be four or five years old on or before 31 July 2013.

The NSW Government has also released the review of NSW Government Funding of Early Childhood Education conducted by Professor Deborah Brennan of the Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW, which found approximately one in seven of the state's children was missing out on an early childhood education.

The Brennan Report also revealed that:

· 30 per cent of NSW Government preschool funding does not focus on the target group of four to five-year-old children;

· Many four and five-year-old children are not receiving an early childhood education program with a qualified early childhood teacher, even though they are attending an early childhood service, and

· Current funding programs were poorly targeted and not directed at NSW strategic priorities for early childhood education.

"The NSW Government will be supporting all of Professor Brennan's major recommendations," Mr Piccoli said.

"Our response to the report commenced last year with a $30 million package of initiatives in early childhood education and care, and today we are moving on the key issue of preschool affordability.

"We will begin immediate consultation with the early childhood education and care sector on a new funding system that will be introduced from 2014. The NSW Government will take this opportunity to improve access and equity.

"Professor Brennan's funding recommendations depend on continued significant Commonwealth Government support, and the fee reduction announcement was made possible by the Gillard Government's release of money owed to the state under a National Partnership Agreement.

"This Agreement expires in June, and it is important that the Gillard Government quickly concludes negotiations with NSW for a new National Agreement.

"Only with Commonwealth Government support can the Brennan Report recommendations be delivered to improve the funding, quality and delivery of early childhood education and care into the future.

"The NSW Government will continue working on the Brennan recommendations with key stakeholders in the early childhood education and care sector," Mr Piccoli said.

KU Children's Services Chief Executive Christine Legg said affordability is one of the greatest barriers facing NSW families wanting to access a quality preschool program for their children.

"This funding will see the fees reduced for every 4 and 5 year old, in every KU preschool. We are confident that the lower fees will see more children coming to preschool," Ms Legg said.

Ms Legg also welcomed the release of the Brennan Report.

"The report has been long awaited by the sector, is very thorough and has highlighted some the key funding issues that have plagued NSW preschools for many years. Greater investment is needed, and so KU congratulates the State Government both for releasing the report and this one-off funding to support families immediately.

"Importantly the State Government has recognised the need to get any new funding model right by consulting with the sector. Again, we congratulate the Government for making a longer term commitment to improving the affordability of preschool, and addressing some fundamental issues with the way NSW preschools have been funded."

Professor Brennan warmly welcomed the Government's acceptance of her recommendations.

"The new funding model will increase access to preschool education for those children most likely to miss out at present – children in low-income families, Aboriginal and Islander children, those with limited English and children in rural and remote communities. This is a most welcome change of direction for NSW," Professor Brennan said.

Find out more about the NSW Government's Funding for early childhood education review.


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