Pre-school fees cut

Pre-school fees slashed:  Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, left, with Early Childhood Education Minister Leslie Williams and Robyn Cartwright and  Sally Floyd recently

Pre-school fees slashed: Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, left, with Early Childhood Education Minister Leslie Williams and Robyn Cartwright and Sally Floyd recently

THE cost of sending children to the Glen Innes Pre-school will be cut by up to 30 per cent after the state government made additional funding available for early childhood education.

The NSW Government announced $115 million in funding this week to make early childhood education more affordable with a number of preschools across the Northern Tablelands, including the Glen Innes Pre School, looking like they will benefit.

Starting next year, community preschools across the State which enrol children for at least 600 hours in the year before school will receive increased subsidies from the NSW Government, enabling them to reduce fees for families.

Local State MP Adam Marshall said the news should be welcomed by local families.

“The government is lowering the barriers to entry by reducing preschool fees for four and five year olds and removing nearly all fees for children from Aboriginal and low-income families,” he said.

“The NSW government is providing a safety net for community preschools in regional, rural and remote areas.

“We are guaranteeing funding for preschools that are licensed for 20 places or less to ensure non­-metropolitan preschools in small rural communities can keep their doors open despite varying enrolments from year to year.”

But Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Kate Washington said over the past five years the NSW government has presided over a $260 million under spend in the the early childhood sector which has brought it to breaking point.

“We know $227 million was identified by the auditor general in May of this year as being federal funds that had not been spent, so this announcement of $115 million doesn’t even represent the amount of money they have been given by the commonwealth to pass on to the sector,” she said.

“What this announcement amounts to is the state government doling out money that they should have already given out and now everyone is meant to be grateful.

“It is just not a setting where we should be giving out any accolades to the NSW government.

The Glen Innes Pre-school will happily accept a state government funding injection towards making preschool more affordable for families but says the NSW government has room for improvement when it comes to early childhood education policy.

Glen Innes Preschool Director Robyn Cartwright said they welcome the $115 million funding injection towards making preschool more affordable for families and look forward to receiving further details to assist them to determine the impact it will have upon their services.

“The additional investment is a positive step towards increasing access and affordability for four and five year old students in their year before school, however there is still room for improvement,’ she said.

“The funding allocation means that preschools are able to offer reduced fees which removes one of the accessibility barriers, however with most services operating at full capacity, we need to focus on investing in creating more preschool places.”

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