$2 billion funding agreement to guarantee preschool for Aussie kids

The Morrison Government is locking in $2 billion over four years to guarantee $1340 for every Australian child to attend preschool in the year before school.

It is the first time in history that Commonwealth funding for preschools will be ongoing, and means federal government funding for all stages of education in Australia is now guaranteed.

The new agreements, to be negotiated with states and territories for the school years 2022-2025, would be linked to reforms that lift preschool attendance and school readiness.

  • The $1340 per child will need to be passed on for every child, regardless of whether they attend ‘kinder’, ‘preschool’ or a preschool program at a centre-based day care.
  • From 2024, states and territories will need to set and meet attendance targets agreed to by all jurisdictions.
  • The Commonwealth will work with states and territories to develop and implement a preschool outcomes measure.

The current Universal Access National Partnership (UANP) gives children access to 15 hours of preschool per week (600 hours per year), benefiting about 350,000 children and supporting around 12,000 preschool services.

While UANP has seen the number of eligible children enrolled in preschool increase from 12 per cent in 2008 to 96 per cent in 2019, only 72 per cent of children make full use of the available hours.

Attendance rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (60 per cent) and disadvantaged children (66 per cent) are even lower.

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the significant reforms will mean Australian children are better prepared for their first year of school.

“We are supporting preschool for Australian kids because we know that children who attend more preschool have better education outcomes and ultimately achieve more in the long-term,” Minister Tudge said.

“Regardless of where a child gets their preschool education, they will benefit from the Federal Government’s $1340.

“These reforms will boost the quality and impact of preschool education in Australia.

The Commonwealth will negotiate with the states and territories in coming months to ensure an agreement can be in place from 1 January 2022.

Commonwealth funding for preschool will grow from $453 million in 2021-22 to $520 million in 2024-25, with a commitment to ongoing funding from 2026 if reforms are achieved during the first four years.

The funding brings the Morrison Government’s total investment in early childhood education and care to $3.3 billion in the 2021-22 Budget, including $1.7 billion to improve affordability of child care for families with multiple children aged five and under.

StateTotal funding available over four years (rounded)Approximate projected enrolments in 2022Number of preschool services
NSW$598 million105,0003,995
VIC$528 million91,0002,850
QLD$352 million62,0002,265
WA$186 million35,0001,610
SA$114 million20,000800
TAS$43 million7,000330
NT$18.5 million3,000230
ACT$39.5 million7,000260

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