Education Minister Grace Grace has today announced that the Palaszczuk Government will continue funding for early childhood development programs and services for children with a disability aged from 0-5 years.
Ms Grace said the four-year, $63.3 million funding commitment would ensure eligible children continued to receive tailored support from teachers and teacher aides to help them develop the knowledge and skills they need as they prepare for the important transition to school.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring all Queensland children receive a great start through world class education,” Ms Grace said.
“Early Childhood Development Programs (ECDPs) provide early intervention to children who require intensive, multi-disciplinary programs to develop skills and behaviours to maximise their participation in schooling,” Ms Grace said.
“Demand for ECDPs has remained high since 2014, particularly for 3 to 5-year-olds. There are currently around 1800 children registered with Early Childhood Development Programs, across Queensland.
“These programs will continue to be available to eligible children under five years of age, who have been diagnosed, or are suspected of having certain disabilities.”
These disabilities include autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, hearing impairment, physical impairment, speech language impairment or vision impairment.
“This funding commitment will mean that all 102 ECDPs will remain open for registrations, which are largely driven by local needs and the availability of other supports and services in the community,” Ms Grace said.
“Early Childhood Development Programs play a different but complementary role to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Early Childhood Early Intervention supports, and to kindergartens.”
Ms Grace also announced close to $650,000 in funding for staff professional development in ECDPs which will assist them in collaborating with other providers to build on good practice.
“The staff professional development funding will ensure that great teachers and teacher aides working with these students continue to develop new skills and knowledge, which will mean they can better support the children.”
Queensland Association of Special Education Leaders (QASEL) president, Roselynne Anderson, enthusiastically commended the 2019 Budget for the disability education sector.
“The commitment to the continuation of our highly valued ECDPs will continue the highly effective wraparound programs and services provided by ECDPs into the future,” Ms Anderson said.
“QASEL also commends the provision in this budget of extra teachers and teacher aides to support the best possible learning outcomes for all students with disability.
“Special Schools offer unique learning opportunities for some students with disability and the provision for two new schools on the fast growing Sunshine Coast is another budget win for students with disability in this area.”