We have long advocated for a more progressive universal system of early education. That is a system that provides a universal entitlement to early education for every child and a system that recognises that not every child starts from the same place.
That’s why it was so affirming to see the State Government recently launch the Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan which includes more than $200 million investment to create a higher quality, more equitable and inclusive early childhood system.
Our services reach 6500 children every day in communities right across the socio-economic spectrum. We work hard to tailor our responses so that children who need more support get it. We are pleased to see the Government invest an additional $55.3m in changing the way kindergartens will be funded in the future so that we can plan with confidence in providing more support to the children who need it most.
More than $100 million will be allocated to new and existing programs that support kindergartens to deliver high-quality and inclusive programs that maximise children’s early learning opportunities. This includes ongoing funding for the Early Start Kindergarten program and pre-purchased kindergarten places (PPKP), which support eligible families to access free three-year-old kindergarten. Thanks to our outreach family support pilot program we were able to support 98 vulnerable and at-risk children to access early learning services this year. These are children who more than likely would have otherwise missed out due to structural and financial barriers. We look forward to supporting more children and families via these programs in the future.
Koorie children will be supported with programs designed to help ensure they receive a strong foundation for their learning and development. These programs align with the work ECMS has been doing over the past two years to support indigenous families more effectively. Our work has included building close partnerships with indigenous organisations, including SNAICC and Reconciliation Australia, and developing Reconciliation Action Plans at an organisational and service level.
Our educators work closely with Maternal and Child Health services, to ensure children are healthy and well prepared for school. The reform plan includes more than $80 million for programs that strengthen vital Maternal and Child Health Services
We will continue to work with Government on the rollout of these reforms and will keep you updated about our progress.