THE Assembly has voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling on the Abbott Government to commit to continuing funding for preschools in the ACT next year.
“The ACT Government has been providing 15 hours of free preschool a week under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education,” Joy Burch said.
“This has allowed families to arrange their work schedules and has also provided jobs for early childhood educators.
“Evidence shows that attending preschool has a significant effect on students’ later literacy and numeracy outcomes.
“However, the current Agreement expires on 31 December 2014, and while the most recent federal budget made a contingency for the continuation of this partnership, the Commonwealth government has not committed to renewing the agreement.
“Without continued Australian Government funding, the ACT cannot sustain 15 hours a week.
“This will hit every ACT family with a preschool age child. It will also put jobs in the sector at risk.
“Given the delays by the Commonwealth and the late hour of these discussions, a failure to renew this agreement will see parents scrambling at the last minute to find paid childcare to replace those hours lost in preschool.
“I am heartened that the Canberra Liberals today joined with the Labor Government to seek immediate assurances from the Abbott Government on the future of this funding.
“To my knowledge, all state and territory Education Ministers are as one on ensuring this funding continues. I will be writing to them all this week, and the Agreement will be raised with our federal counterparts at the first Education Council meeting this Friday.
“It is time the Commonwealth Government told parents and staff what it is planning for next year.”