The Commonwealth and Western Australian (WA) governments have signed a preschool funding agreement that will benefit more than 130,000 Western Australian children in the year before school over the next four years.
The Preschool Reform Agreement confirms up to $190 million of Commonwealth funding for preschool in Western Australia from 2022 to 2025.
Acting Minister for Education and Youth, Stuart Robert, said the agreement will ensure Western Australian children have access to high-quality preschool options and are better prepared for their first year of school.
‘This agreement will mean every child in WA has the opportunity to attend at least 15 hours of preschool a week in the year before they start school,’ Minister Robert said.
‘Importantly, this funding is linked to new reforms, including improving preschool participation and developing an outcomes measure, and will benefit all children, regardless of the type of preschool they attend.
‘This agreement will also place the focus on improving preschool participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as only 52 per cent of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool made full use of the hours on offer in 2020.
‘We know access to high-quality early childhood education and care is critical to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This agreement will build upon the Government’s $122.6 million commitment to meet early childhood Closing the Gap targets.’
The Closing the Gap early childhood package includes the expansion of the Connected Beginnings program and Community Child Care Fund Restricted services in WA. These programs support increased access to early learning services and enhanced wrap-around education support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
WA Minister for Education and Training, Sue Ellery, said the Commonwealth’s contribution would provide funding certainty to parents, educators and the sector.
‘This is an incredibly important multilateral partnership for our youngest students over the next four years,’ Minister Ellery said.
‘We know that education is the key to setting young people up for successful lives, and this partnership contributes to the futures of WA students.
‘This agreement maintains Commonwealth funding to the sector and, importantly, will ensure all Western Australian children and their families are supported during these significant years.’
WA Minister for Community Services, Simone McGurk, said the investment would help to provide young learners with the best available start.
‘This agreement reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that Western Australian children have the best opportunity to learn, grow and thrive,’ Minister McGurk said.
‘To invest in the early years is an investment in our future, and this partnership will deliver benefits for many years to come.’
This four-year agreement provides long term certainty to more than 300,000 Australian children and their families each year, along with the early childhood education sector.
The Commonwealth’s historic investment in early childhood education also includes around $10 billion a year through the child care system to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for families using child care and to improve workforce participation.