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SA joins national partnership to fund preschools

Across South Australia, 4-year-olds will now be guaranteed time at preschool for the next two years, after the state joined a Commonwealth agreement.

In May, the federal government allocated $840 million to fund two more years of universal access guaranteeing all 4-year-olds across Australia up to 15 hours a week at preschool. SA has now joined that national partnership. The minister for education, Senator Simon Birmingham, said the deal would guarantee universal access to quality preschool programs for both 2016 and 2017.

“Access to quality early education in the year before formal schooling helps children successfully transition to the new school environment and contributes to longer term positive education outcomes,” Birmingham said. “This is why the Turnbull Government is committed to supporting universal access to early education programs.

“We are committed to working with all states and territories to determine the most effective long-term arrangements for early education and to increasing preschool participation across the country.”

SA Education Minister Susan Close added: “There is no question that these early years of a child’s development are key to their futures and our children deserve the benefit of preschool before starting their education.”

President of the Australian Childcare Alliance South Australia, Kerry Mahoney, said the new proposal was absolutely vital. “We’re very pleased that South Australia have signed up to the national partnership” Mahoney said. “We’re also very pleased that the funding for childcare is shared between government preschools and other private providers.”

Early Learning Association Australia chief executive Shane Lucas also expressed his view. “We certainly, as a sector, have always been pleased that money was made available and we’re pleased that the states and commonwealth are coming to agreement,” Lucas said.

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