Anxious wait for parents amid NSW preschool funding delays

The New South Wales Education Minister has assured parents and preschools a new funding model will be released soon as uncertainty forces one local council to delay its enrolment process for next year.

Under the new arrangements, funding will be prioritised for four and five-year-olds and disadvantaged three-year-olds to ensure more children have at least one year of early childhood education.

It means parents of younger children could end up paying more.

The changes come after a review by Professor Deborah Brennan released earlier this year found that approximately one in seven of the state’s children was missing out.

Marrickville Council, in Sydney’s inner west says it has had to cancel an open day for its preschool while it waits to hear what funding will be available.

Marrickville Mayor Jo Haylen says their Globe Wilkins Preschool offers a service to younger children which will be impacted by the changes.

“Marrickville Council doesn’t want to make any promises it can’t keep, particularly for families and kids for next year’s enrolment,” she said.

“We have fantastic facilities in Marrickville, particularly for our preschool which provides a service that isn’t available in a lot of other areas, which is both the year just before school but also two and three-year-olds, ” she said.

“That’s some of the area that’s going to be affected and as a result parents are understandably anxious.”

‘Complex work’

Centres have been told the new model will be released by the end of October and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has assured them it is coming soon.

“It’s a really complex piece of work,” he said.

“The funding for preschools hasn’t been touched for 20 years and it’s not easy to come up with a new model.

“A lot of work is being done and it will be announced as soon as possible.

“We understand that services need to enrol and they’ll be provided with that information very soon.”

CEO of KU Childrens Services Christine Legg says their preschools already prioritise older children and that places are being offered as normal.

She says the minister has made assurances transitional money will be made available for centres that are set to lose funds.

“I would imagine like everybody else in the sector, we’re very anxious to have the outcome,” she said.

“I was part of the small delegation that met with the minister towards the end of August just letting him know that the sector is anxious and that people will start filling their enrolments around about October.

“We do know that there will be transitional funding, at least for next year so no centre will be worse off than they were.

“Logic tells me that will the Commonwealth money going into the preschool funding, generally the sector will be better off.”

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