Labor will extend preschool access to 3 year olds

A Shorten Labor Government will introduce a new two year National Preschool and Kindy Program – the biggest ever investment in early childhood education in Australia.

Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon says Labor’s plan is good for children in the Hunter electorate, good for parents, and good for the economy.

From 2021, every three year old in the Hunter electorate will be able to access 15 hours of subsidised early childhood education, so they can get the best start to learning.

Labor will also extend the current arrangement for four year olds accessing preschool programs – creating a quality, two-year program that boosts development in the most important years of a child’s development, an investment of an additional $1.75 billion into early education.

“90 per cent of a child’s brain development occurs in the first five years of life - an investment in early education is one of the smartest investments our country can make,” Joel Fitzgibbon said.

Labor’s universal access to preschool scheme for four year olds has laid the groundwork for this announcement. Since the first agreement was signed by Labor in 2008, preschool enrolment for four year olds has increased from 77 per cent to between 93-97 per cent. 

But more needs to be done. Our global competitors have recognised the value of a two-year early childhood education program, and it’s time Australia gets on board, before we fall further behind. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Ireland and China have all expanded their early childhood education programs to include three year olds.

“Currently, Scott Morrison has failed to extend preschool funding for four year olds beyond next school year – after his child care changes cut early education from some of Australia’s most vulnerable children, including preschool children in the Hunter electorate,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“The Liberals see education as a cost – that’s why they’ve cut $14 billion from public schools and left preschool funding in limbo. Labor sees it as an investment in our collective future.”

Labor will work in partnership with the states and territories to deliver this important reform, including in setting enrolment and attendance targets, particularly for Indigenous and vulnerable children.

“We’ve made tough and overdue decisions to rein in unfair tax concessions that predominantly benefit the wealthy – including negative gearing reform and dividend imputation reform – so we can fund the priorities that will make a fairer and more successful nation,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Labor’s plan is good for children, good for parents, and good for the economy:

  • Children -Studies have shown that children who access quality early education achieve better results in tests throughout their schooling. Early education is particularly vital in closing the disadvantage gap before a child starts school. Labor’s plan will see around 340,000 three year olds and a similar number of four year olds able to access preschool every year.
  • Parents –One of the biggest barriers to accessing early education is finance – expanding access will help with the cost of living, help parents balance work and family and help reduce the child care bill for families with children already in early education.
  • Economy –evidence shows that the return on investment in early childhood education is significant. A recent study form the EU showed that for every dollar spent on early childhood education for 3 year olds, $4 was returned to the economy. 

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