CCSA welcomes the Government’s pre-Budget announcement of further support to community and mobile preschools until the end of calendar year 2022. $150 million in additional funding through the new Start Strong Free Preschool program, in addition to the Government’s ongoing commitment to the core Start Strong funding model, will support community and mobile preschools to deliver 600 hours of free preschool to each eligible child in 2022.
The Start Strong Free Preschool program for 2022 will build on the success of earlier support provided to the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. That support focussed on the dual objectives of minimising costs to parents and maintaining the financial viability of preschools. Our members have reported record enrolment levels as a result of the COVID-19 Free Preschool funding program in 2020 and 2021. This is a significant investment in the futures of our youngest learners, even in the most difficult days of the pandemic.
Given the obvious benefits to children and their families, CCSA has been advocating for a continuation of similar levels of support post-pandemic through a structural change to funding arrangements. CCSA believes that the Start Strong Free Preschool program is an excellent first step towards achieving that goal. The Start Strong Free Preschool program will be an opt-in program in 2022, allowing individual preschools the opportunity to make a decision on participation that best meets their needs and those of their families.
Importantly, the Government has committed to working closely with the sector to finalise arrangements ahead of its implementation in 2022. We look forward to working with the NSW Department of Education during this time to refine guidelines. Our common aim will be to ensure that the additional funding improves access to 600 hours of quality preschool education in 2022 for all NSW children and, most importantly, for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
This post expires on Tuesday August 31st, 2021