The Abbott Government has left New South Wales families in limbo by refusing to confirm Federal preschool funding for next year.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Kate Ellis said that without the funding, families will see fees rise and centres close, leaving parents struggling to find back-up child care places.
“Just months out from the new year, the Abbott Government is still refusing to guarantee Federal preschool funding for next year, which currently ensures four-year-olds can access 15 hours of education in the year before school,” Kate Ellis said.
“Preschool providers can’t hire teachers, set fees, or guarantee enough hours, leaving parents’ work commitments up in the air.”
Kate Ellis and Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Linda Burney today visited the SDN Marrickville Children's Education and Care Centre in Marrickville, a long day care centre which provides a high quality preschool program for local children. They were joined by the Federal Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese and Labor Candidate for Summer Hill Jo Haylen.
Federal Budget papers reveal New South Wales stands to lose around $152 million for 2015 alone and $608 million until 2018 if Tony Abbott does not continue the current preschool funding arrangements.
The Baird Liberal Government since coming to office has continually underspent funds allocated for early childhood education. This year’s Budget papers reveal an underspend of $64.6 million on early childhood education in 2013-14 on top of the 2012-13 underspend of $147.3 million.
Linda Burney said it was time Mike Baird made access to preschool a priority and demand that Tony Abbott continue to fund this essential community service.
“It’s simply not fair for our local services and not fair for our local families and their employers, who need this continued Federal funding, but most of all need certainty of that funding now,” Linda Burney said.
“If the Government does cut this Federal money, preschool hours will be slashed, fees will rise and some services will be forced to shut down.”
Australian and international research has proven that children who attend 15 hours per week of quality kindergarten go on to score significantly better in Year Three NAPLAN tests and Year Four reading, mathematics and science.
"The Government’s own Productivity Commission recommended investment, not cutting of preschool funding, yet the Abbott Government still hasn’t given a clear answer and is leaving local families grappling with uncertainty,” Kate Ellis said.
“Without this funding Tony Abbott will send us back to the situation we had under the Howard Government – where just 1 in 10 Australian children had access to 15 hours of preschool per week."
Kate Ellis and Linda Burney called on Tony Abbott to honour his election promise not to cut education, and fund New South Wales preschools next year.
“Before the last election, Tony Abbott promised there would be no cuts to education, and New South Wales children should not have to pay the price for his lies,” Kate Ellis said.