Preschool funding deal extended for a year

Education Minister Simon Birmingham. Source: AAP

The Turnbull government is chipping in $440 million to extend preschool funding for a year while talks continue with the states on a long-term agreement.

Federal funding for preschools has been extended by a year, at a cost of $440 million, as the Turnbull government continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the states.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham says the funding injection will extend the national partnership on early childhood education into 2019, covering more than 348,000 children.

This will ensure children have access to 15 hours of quality early learning in the year before school.

"Between our $427.8 million in 2018 and $440 million in 2019 for preschool - as well as our overhaul of the child care system and $2.5 billion extra investment - the Turnbull government's commitment to early childhood education and care and is clear," Senator Birmingham said in a statement.

The announcement comes as new data shows nearly one in 10 of the children the program was supposed to support weren't enrolled in preschool.

And only around 70 per cent of children enrolled in dedicated preschool were attending for the full 15 hours a week.

"There's clearly an opportunity to work with states and territories to ensure our funding for preschool is best supporting all children, especially those who most need it," Senator Birmingham said.

He said too often students not getting the full 15 hours of preschool came from disadvantaged backgrounds, raising the potential for a "lost generation" of children who start school too far behind their counterparts.

The extension would provide time to work through such issues with the states, but the federal opposition is not impressed.

"Whilst Labor welcomes this last minute stop-gap, it's a weak effort by the minister who has once again left uncertainty in the sector and uncertainty for families," Labor MP Amanda Rishworth said.

"If the Turnbull government were serious about giving our children the best possible opportunities in life they would ensure long term funding for four-year-old preschool was secured."

Source AAP - SBS

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