SA Preschool Leads Early Years Reform for Child Head Start

SA Gov

The 2024-25 Budget will invest $715 million over five years to implement universal 3-year-old preschool and other key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care.

This is part of a total investment of $1.9 billion over the period to 2032-33.

The rollout of 3-year-old preschool will begin in 2026 as promised, with the 2024-25 Budget delivering funding to build the workforce and infrastructure needed as quickly as possible.

The investment includes:

  • $339.7 million over five years to deliver universal 3-year-old preschool in government and non-government settings, including long day care centres, in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commissioner, the Hon. Julia Gillard.
  • $127.3 million over four years to provide 30 hours per week of preschool to 3 and 4-year-old children at greatest risk of developmental vulnerability. This will be delivered in local settings and 20 integrated hubs, including two initial demonstration hubs opening in late 2025.
  • $96.6 million over four years to grow and support the early childhood workforce and provide support for quality teaching and learning in preparation for universal 3-year-old preschool delivery, including additional support for the Education Standards Board to increase the frequency of assessments and ratings.
  • $30.6 million over four years to align the support offered through 4-year-old preschool with enhanced supports being developed for 3-year-old preschool.
  • $14 million over four years to partner with Aboriginal communities to increase the benefits Aboriginal children receive from 3-year-old preschool, and invest in early childhood and care provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

From 2026, the government will partner with long day care providers across the state who meet quality and workforce requirements to deliver 3-year-old preschool to children enrolled in their services. This will enable thousands of children to access the program from the early stages of the reform.

Government and non-government (sessional) preschools will also phase in the availability of 3-year-old preschool places between 2026 and 2032 based on location, starting in remote and regional communities. Participation and hours will grow over the life of the reform.

The first two integrated hubs will be established in 2025 – one in Port Pirie and the other in the Adelaide's northern suburbs.

These two sites will act as a pilot, guiding the establishment of future hubs, and will offer parenting programs and children and family health services.

This is the biggest reform to education in this state in decades with the investment key to reducing the rate of South Australian children entering school developmentally vulnerable – from 23.8 per cent to 15 per cent over 20 years.

Families can visit to learn more about the roll-out of the 3-year-old program.

As put by Peter Malinauskas

The Royal Commission was clear that the early years are pivotal to shaping the rest of a child's life, with quality early education and care able to change life trajectories.

We have been unapologetic in our ambitious goal to reduce the rate of South Australian children entering school developmentally vulnerable.

We are committed to a nation leading vision for the early childhood development system that will improve the lives of thousands of South Australian children.

As put by Stephen Mullighan

As the biggest reform to South Australia's early years system in a generation, significant investment was key to ensuring we reach our ambitious goal of reducing the rate of developmental vulnerability as children enter school.

Time and time again, investment in early intervention has been shown to have the biggest impact and economic return.

Now is the time to invest in our children and ensure we are providing them with the best opportunities for the best start in life.

As put by Blair Boyer

This is an exciting reform that will lead the nation.

It builds upon our existing investment in improving government preschool facilities and out of school hours care, providing families with greater options and a higher quality of education and care.

Our goal is to strengthen the connection between families and preschool programs, health and support services so fewer South Australian children are starting school developmentally vulnerable.

The Royal Commission told us quality early learning programs can have a significant and lasting impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds above the gains observed for other children.

We are acting now to improve future outcomes for our most vulnerable children and this budget shows the priority we place on this important education reform.

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