Parents living in the ACT can now rejoice over the fact that they can send their kids to preschool free of charge for two years.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Yvette Berry, announced today that the new initiative will see the government offer 15 hours per week of free universal early childhood education offered to kids aged three.
Currently, only four-year-olds are offered free pre-school in the ACT, where childcare prices are the highest in the country.
Thus, this change comes under the state’s Early Childhood Strategy which aims to encourage kids to participate in two years of education prior to starting school.
“High quality preschool programs, led by qualified early childhood teachers, provide children with the opportunity to learn through play—developing their confidence in communication, collaboration and social skills and emotional regulation,” says Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia (ECA).
After a report reviewing ‘Educational Excellence in Australian Schools through Early Childhood Interventions,’ estimated that up to 20 per cent of children aged between one and four years were missing out on early education primarily due to cost, it was clear something needed to change.
Given these statistics, it was then recommended early education becomes more accessible in order to narrow the gap in children’s skill levels and experience when starting school.
“Preschool education is particularly effective in reducing the opportunity gap, where some children would otherwise be at a disadvantage when they begin school,” the ECA explains.
“It also means that children with speech or language difficulties can be identified early and provided with extra support.”
Over the coming months the minister intends to speak with parents, the early childhood education sector, schools and the wider community about how and when this opportunity will become available.
Thank you @YvetteSBerry for your commitment to extend access to early childhood education to 3 year old children in the ACT. ChildrenFirstAlliance looks forward to working with you on this! https://t.co/FVnNvcg5w9 pic.twitter.com/AiV5k4Tqiu
— CommunityServices#1 (@CS1Canberra) July 31, 2018