The Gillard Government will invest $22.3 billion in early childhood education and care over the next four years – more than triple the investment made during the last four years of the Howard Government.
This includes a record $9.6 billion for the Child Care Rebate and $10.3 billion for the Child Care Benefit over the next four years, to improve child care affordability for Australian families.
Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care, Kate Ellis said that the Government’s record investments were improving affordability, increasing accessibility and raising the quality of child care across Australia.
"The Government’s increased investment in child care affordability assistance is making a real difference for families, with out-of-pocket costs for a family on $7500 a year with one child in full time care falling from 13 per cent of disposable income in 2004 to 7.5 per cent in 2011,” Ms Ellis said.
“We've seen a massive 36 per cent increase in the number of child care services since Labor came to Government and the expansion of the sector shows no signs of slowing.”
"And our historic reforms to improve the quality of child care across Australia are critical to giving parents the peace of mind they need to be able to return to work, knowing their children are safe and well looked after.”
Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett said that investment in early education was critical because 90 per cent of brain development happens in the first few years of a child’s life.
“Our Government’s reforms to give all children access to 15 hours of early childhood education and care for 40 weeks a year by a university-trained teacher by 2013 are about giving all kids the best possible start in life,” Mr Garrett said.
“We’re also providing unprecedented support to attract and train a professional early childhood workforce for the future, including through the reduction of HECS HELP debts for early childhood education qualifications and helping more existing staff attain a diploma or advanced diploma in children’s services.”
Last night’s Budget also included new early childhood education and care funding of:
- $225.1 million for targeted child care assistance to help more parents receive the training and skills they need to enter or return to the workforce; and
- $55.7 million to ensure Australia's most vulnerable children are better prepared to start school by expanding the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) to 100 communities across Australia.
“Tripling the investment of the previous Government is a significant milestone and reflects the fact that quality, affordable and accessible early childhood education and care is a major priority for the Gillard Government,” Ms Ellis said.