Victorian families with young kids have been left in limbo, after the Turnbull Government revealed it would only extend the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (NPA) for another 12 months.
Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos expressed disappointment in Thursday’s (May 4) announcement that the NPA would get another short-term extension, continuing the cycle of uncertainty and leaving Victorian families without long-term vision.
The NPA is an agreement between the federal and state governments to fund 15 hours of kindergarten per week, with states covering two-thirds and the federal government one-third of the cost of sending 4-year-old kids to kindergarten, an official press release said.
The one-year $428 million agreement will leave a shortfall in funding for the Commonwealth’s contribution to 15 hours per week, and fails to keep pace with population growth and quality regulations.
In Victoria this year, more than 76,000 children will have access to 15 hours of kindergarten a week under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.
This kindergarten funding uncertainty is particularly disappointing following the Andrews Labor Government’s landmark investment in our early childhood sector, including a $108.4 million funding boost to help kindergartens deliver higher quality and more inclusive programs.
The Labor Government is delivering an Australian first in its school readiness funding to our kindergartens so Victorian children get the best start in life.
Research shows that children who have a stimulating, supportive and healthy start to life are more likely to do well later in life, while children who attend kinder score between 10 and 20 points higher on NAPLAN tests, the release added.
The Labor Government will now seek urgent advice from the Commonwealth to clarify how much funding Victoria will receive and under what terms.
Mikakos said, “This is yet another short-term funding offer that continues the cycle of uncertainty and anxiety for parents and their kids. It short changes Victoria again and hurts our kinders and our hardworking teachers and educators.” (TIW)