In mid-2022, the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria announced joint proposals to radically improve ECEC accessibility, which will give all children the opportunity for equality in school readiness.
In this blog:
Victoria to bump up childcare centre supply
As part of its $9 billion early childhood education overhaul, the Victorian Government expects to establish 50 childcare centres in ‘childcare deserts’ by 2025. The centres will help meet the increasing demand for childcare placements – a demand that will be fuelled even more so by its new fee relief schemes and fee-free early learning programs.
While Victoria is expected to commence its major rollout in 2025, it has launched its Free Kinder program in 2023. The program offers free kinder for three- and four-year-olds who attend participating services and is expected to help families save up to $2,500 per child each year. It includes:
- Between 5 and 15 hours per week for three-year-olds
- 15 hours per week (600 per year) for four-year-olds.
Over the next 10 years, the Victorian Government will transition Four-Year-Old Kindergarten to ‘Pre-Prep’ and establish a universal 30-hour education program per week of play-based learning.
Further north, New South Wales has already begun implementing its multi-billion-dollar ECEC reform, although completion of such an enormous task isn’t expected for another decade.
IPART Review will improve childcare for families
The NSW Government has earmarked $15.9 billion for its Early Years Commitment initiative, which includes fee relief for low-income families with four-year-olds needing an extra year of preschool to be in line academically and socially with their peers.
As part of the reform rollout, the NSW Government is undertaking a first-ever review of the ECEC sector to gather data on accessibility, affordability and family’s choices and preferences. It has commissioned the Independent Pricing and Review Tribunal (IPART) to conduct the review.
NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell explained that the data will help ensure funding is allocated in a way that has the most impact on families.
“IPART will collect the essential information we need to help drive down the cost of ECEC, while ensuring high quality and delivering more services for NSW families right across the state,” Ms Mitchell said.
It’s been released that an interim report is expected in August, and potentially a final report by December 2023.
More fee relief for parents
In addition, NSW’s Preschool Reform Agreement includes setting aside $840 million in funding over the next four years to help increase attendance and improve the quality of education in the year before starting school.
Four- and five-year-olds in long day care will now to able to access fee relief through Start Strong, saving families up to $2,110 per year. Funding for three-year-olds will also be introduced for the first time, supported by an additional $64.1 million over the next two years.
Universal pre-Kindy launches in NSW
Studies have shown that lower-income families are more likely to send their children to school earlier because of the unaffordability of childcare, while higher socio-economic families are more inclined to send their children to school later.
In response, NSW has designed the cornerstone of its Early Learning Commitment: a universal pre-Kindy model that offers four-year-olds an extra, fee-free year of schooling before attending Kindergarten.
The program will focus on helping children to be confident and capable lifelong learners, using play-based learning models. Ultimately, the goal is to bridge the gap in children’s school readiness, which mainly affects low-income children those with disabilities, and those from culturally diverse backgrounds.
The NSW Government states that the program means “families will have access to no cost early learning for their children in the year before school, at the hours, days and locations that work for them – and it will include models of care beyond 9am-3pm for families that need it.”
The pilot program launches in 2023, with an expected rollout timeline of 10 years.
Selling A Childcare Centre
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