Start Strong FAQs
Community Preschool FAQs
Why is the NSW Government giving more money to preschools?
The NSW Government is committed to ensuring that all children in New South Wales can participate in 600 hours of quality early childhood education in the year before school. The Government is providing an additional $85 million in funding to community preschools to help make access to quality early childhood education more affordable for all families in NSW.
Why 600 hours?
The National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education with the Commonwealth stipulates that all children have access to early childhood education for 600 hours in the year before school.
Research shows that children who participate in a moderate level of quality early childhood education in the year before school are more likely to arrive at school equipped with the social, cognitive and emotional skills they need to engage in learning. An average of 600 hours or 15 hours per week is considered a moderate level of participation.
There is also good evidence that children continue to enjoy the educational and social benefits all the way through their schooling, not just when they start at primary school.
How is the government paying for the reform?
Start Strong invests $115 million from 1 January to 30 June 2018. To fund Start Strong, the NSW Government will invest all remaining National Partnership Universal Access funding currently held by NSW.
Will fees go down at my preschool?
The NSW Government is requiring preschools to pass on at least 75 per cent of the increased funding to families through lower fees.
As every preschool sets its own fees, preschool providers will be advising families of their lower fees directly.
The NSW Government funds community preschools to provide quality early childhood education to local communities. Community preschools will engage with families and the community so they can implement the new funding system in a way that meets local priorities and expectations.
Why is there special funding for Aboriginal children and children from disadvantaged backgrounds?
Research findings indicate that one year of preschool at age four may not be sufficient to consolidate the gains from early childhood education for Aboriginal children and children from low income families.
This extended participation in early childhood education for Aboriginal children and children from low income families is in keeping with the recommendations of the Brennan review.
From 1 July 2017, base rate funding for Aboriginal children and children from low income families will increase to $6,600 per child per annum at community preschools. This will cover more than 90 per cent of the cost of preschool education for these children.
This funding will be for children aged 3 – 5 years for the two years prior to starting school.
When will the new funding begin?
From 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2017, community preschools will receive the increased funding for all children enrolled for 600 hours.
Children enrolled for fewer than 600 hours will continue to receive the existing (lower) rates of funding until 1 July 2017.
From 1 July 2017 onward, community preschools will receive the maximum rate of funding for children enrolled for 600 hours only. Children enrolled for fewer hours will attract a pro-rata amount.
This staged introduction will allow plenty of time for community preschools to consult families and communities and make any necessary changes to the way they operate.
What is the definition of Preschool Operating Hours?
Operating Hours are determined by the hours each day which meet the following criteria:
- Service meets all of its obligations under the National Law and Regulations including compliance with staff child ratios for total enrolled preschool children during the operating hours.
- Service fee covers the total hours children are eligible to attend.
- All children enrolled in the service on that day are able to attend for the full duration of the operating hours.
Clarification of Terminology
Operating hours of services are not to be confused with the following terms:
- Opening hours: staff may be employed outside operating hours for set up, pack up, training or staff meetings but children are not present. These hours should not be included as part of preschool operating hours.
- Session hours or program hours: may include limited hours where a specific program is delivered during the day. This may be part of the preschool operating hours.
- Before and after care hours: may include additional hours outside operating hours. This should not be included as part of preschool operating hours as additional fees are usually charged.