The funding is open to 700 community preschools and 38 mobile services caring for 45,000 children. Image by PR HANDOUT IMAGE PHOTO

Health

NSW Labor urges extending free preschool

2020-06-26 20:37:51

NSW Labor has called for an extension of free community preschool in the state until at least the end of 2020 to allow parents to return to work during Australia’s coronavirus-induced recession.

The state government in April pledged more than $130 million to save childcare sector jobs by providing parents with free care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a $51 million funding package to cover the cost of preschool fees for up to six months and up to $82 million to support council childcare centres ineligible for JobKeeper payments.

The funding is available to 700 state-funded community preschools along with 38 mobile services, which care for some 45,000 children aged between three and five.

This is on top of the Start Strong funding arrangement.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell at the time said the arrangement covered about 70 per cent of a preschool’s overall budget based on enrolments.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay on Thursday called on the state government to extend free community preschool until at least the end of the year.

“One of the best stimulus programs we can provide in a recession is helping women back to work,” Ms McKay said in a statement. 

“Saving $50 a day on preschool may not sound like much – but it can be the difference between a parent having the financial security to look for work or stay at home.

“Women have borne the brunt of this crisis. We must provide mums and dads who are struggling to put food on the table with the financial flexibility to re-enter the workforce.”

“September is when JobKeeper and JobSeeker end. The government must cushion the blow by retaining vital early childhood support to families,” Labor’s early childhood learning spokeswoman Jodie Harrison said in a statement on Thursday.

The federal government is ending its emergency free childcare package on July 12.