Wellington Shire Council are extremely concerned that funding for 15 hours of early childhood education may be cut back to ten hours at the end of this year.
Under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education in 2008, all governments committed to work together to ensure that children attending preschool education in the year before they attend full-time school had access to a qualified early childhood teacher for 15 hours a week. This was implemented from January 2013 until December 2017.
“If this funding is cut back to ten hours then working parents will face additional child care costs of $2,000 per year for each child. This is simply unaffordable for many,” says Wellington Shire Council Mayor Carolyn Crossley.
“On behalf of Council, I wrote to the Hon Darren Chester MP at the end of last year urging him to raise Council’s concerns with his Ministerial colleagues and party leaders. Mr Chester kindly passed on my letter to Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training who has responded.
“I very much appreciate receiving a response, however Council still remains concerned that there has been no commitment made by the Minister to maintain the existing funding levels.”
“Council will again write to the Hon Darren Chester MP to continue to seek a solution on the funding uncertainty and ask him to continue to advocate to his ministerial colleagues, party leaders and through Parliamentary question by raising the issue until it is addressed,” concluded Mayor Crossley.
The direct impacts to funding cut backs will result in reduced participation and learning outcomes for children across Wellington Shire.
In 2016, there were 486 children attending four-year-old kindergarten within the Shire.