This year’s federal budget confirmed the Australian Government’s commitment to rolling out the new Child Care Package which will commence on 2 July 2018. However, it fell short of confirming ongoing investment in the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, which includes funding for all children to access 600 hours of a quality preschool program in the year prior to starting school. Currently, the budget only provides funding for the Universal Access program for the calendar year 2019.
“CCSA knows how important the Australian Government’s investment in Universal Access has been in lifting the number of children who have been able to access 600 hours of preschool education in the year prior to starting school. It would have been reassuring for both services and families to know that this important funding will be continuing in the Forward Estimates through until 2021-22. In addition, we would like to see universal access extended to all three-year-olds. This would mean that Australia’s approach to early learning lines up with the growing body of research that shows all children benefit most from preschool and early learning programs if they can participate for two years prior to starting school.” said Meg Mendham, CEO.
CCSA welcomed the investment of $14.5m in the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) over the next two years but is concerned the Australian Government has not shown any commitment in the budget to continuing the separate National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care.
“The Minister for Education Simon Birmingham has stated in his media release that the continued funding for ACECQA ‘guarantees ongoing Commonwealth leadership following the completion of the partnership agreement with states and territories’. However, CCSA needs to see more detail on the proposed funding arrangements to support the vital goals of quality education and care service delivery for children, families and communities under the National Quality Framework. We would be very concerned if the end of the National Partnership Agreement wound back the ongoing investment in, and implementation of, the National Quality Framework.” said Meg Mendham, CEO.
“We understand the National Partnership Agreement currently provides approximately $20m p.a. to the states ($7m in 2017-18 to NSW) to support their role as the regulators for the National Quality Framework. We urge the Australian Government to enter into further dialogue with the states and territories to ensure continuation of the current national arrangement. CCSA opposes any watering down of the COAG commitment to a nationally consistent approach to quality early childhood education and care, especially at a time when the research is unequivocal that high quality education and care services provide the most benefits for children.” said Meg Mendham.
Media Contact: John Gunn, 02 4782 1470 or John.Gunn@ccsa.org.au
About Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA)
For nearly 50 years CCSA has been the peak organisation representing early childhood services in rural and remote communities across NSW. Our purpose is to partner with and advocate for early childhood education and care services to ensure positive outcomes for children and communities.
CCSA members represent the full range of service types including preschools, long day care, occasional care, multipurpose centres, mobiles, family day care, out of school hours care, early intervention, and outreach services. We support community based and private services located in rural, remote, regional, and metropolitan areas.