Universal Access to Early Childhood Education

Universal access to early childhood education ensures that a quality, early childhood education programme is available for all children in the year before full-time school.

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All states and territories have now signed up to the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for 2016 and 2017.

“Under this agreement all states and territories have agreed to support preschool programmes in all settings – whether that be the local state government-run preschool or a preschool within a long day care programme,” Minister Birmingham said.

What is Universal Access?

Universal access to early childhood education ensures that a quality, early childhood education programme is available for all children in the year before full-time school (often referred to as preschool or kindergarten). The programme is to be delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher for 15 hours per week or 600 hours a year, with a focus on participation by Indigenous children, vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Research shows that participating in a quality early childhood education programme can significantly increase positive educational and life outcomes for children, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds. The universal access initiative aims to improve participation in quality early childhood education for all Australian children.

Who benefits?

All Australian children who attend preschool will benefit from this initiative.

While attendance is not compulsory, early childhood education programmes are delivered in a range of settings including child care, stand-alone preschools and school-based preschools, in order to meet the needs of working families, and will be accessible to all Australian children, regardless of their location.

Who funds Universal Access?

States and territories are responsible for the provision of preschool. Since 2008, the Australian Government has made available in excess of $2.8 billion to states and territories through a series of National Partnership arrangements to raise participation levels and more hours of exposure to preschool education.

Details of this commitment are provided in the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.

How is Universal Access linked to the National Quality Framework?

The Australian Government’s universal access commitment is also supported by the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care. This framework includes a National Quality Standard to ensure high quality and consistent early childhood education and care in a long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and preschool services across Australia. The Standard underpins services’ policies and practices in the areas that impact on a child’s development and help families make informed choices about which service is best for their child.

Under the National Quality Framework, long day care and preschool services must have an early childhood teacher in attendance, with specific requirements varying depending on the size of the service.

See more at: http://www.acecqa.gov.au/national-quality-framework.

Who do I contact for more information?

States and territories have responsibility for the provision of preschool or kindergarten in their jurisdiction. Please contact the relevant state or territory government departments listed below for more information:

Who do I contact for more information?

Jurisdiction

Department Name

Website

Phone

NSW

Department of Education

www.dec.nsw.gov.au

1300 679 332

VIC

Department of Education and Training

www.education.vic.gov.au

03 9637 2000

QLD

Department of Education and Training

www.deta.qld.gov.au

13 74 68

WA

Department of Education

www.det.wa.edu.au

08 9264 4111

SA

Department for Education and Child Development

www.decd.sa.gov.au

1800 088 158

TAS

Department of Education

www.education.tas.gov.au

1800 816 057

ACT

Education and Training Directorate

www.det.act.gov.au

02 6207 5111

NT

Department of Education

www.education.nt.gov.au

08 8999 5659