Saturday, December 2, 2023

Education Ministers respond to ECE concerns

The Government has responded to concerns raised by the early childhood education (ECE) sector around proposed funding conditions, Associate Minister of Education Jo Luxton announced today.

As part of the Government’s commitment to ease cost-of-living pressures, Budget 2023 included a $1.187 billion investment to extend 20 Hours ECE to two-year-olds and increase 20 Hours ECE funding rates by 4.6%.

“Extending 20 Hours ECE will support parents and caregivers by easing pressures on household budgets, supporting access to ECE, and allowing parents to return to work sooner if they wish,” Minister Luxton said.

“The Government also wants to increase transparency for parents, so parents have clarity about what they’re being charged for. That’s why we included specific funding conditions aimed at improving this understanding.

“Because of the confidential nature of the Budget process, we couldn’t engage directly with the sector prior to the announcements.

“On hearing their subsequent concerns, I met with ECE representatives. They specifically flagged the proposed condition requiring services to offer enrolments for 20 hours only, if requested.”

She said that based on their constructive feedback and with further advice from officials, she and Minister Jan Tinetti have agreed to remove the condition.

“This change will still enable parents to access more affordable childcare while allowing services to retain flexibility in their enrolment practices to support their viability.”

 “The other proposed funding conditions will remain, providing fee transparency and making sure 20 Hours ECE is genuinely free to parents.

 “We all support more affordable childcare and an easing of pressures on household budgets and I am pleased to announce this update,” Ms Luxton said.

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