BIG CLAP: NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli at Clunes Pre-school with Lismore MP Thomas George.
BIG CLAP: NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli at Clunes Pre-school with Lismore MP Thomas George. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

$25mil head start for littlies

FAMILIES across the Northern Rivers will have more money in their pockets following the announcement of fee reductions for preschoolers in the region.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli joined Lismore MP Thomas George yesterday to make the announcement in front of dozens of excited children at Clunes Community Pre-School.

The O'Farrell Government's $25 million early childhood education funding package is designed to give all enrolled preschool child- ren access to a quality education program in the year before they start school.

Mr Piccoli said the package was made up of $20 million to cover the fee reductions and a $5 million capital works fund that preschools across the state could apply for.

"Preschools and early childhood education are a critical part of the education portfolio and we really need to get early childhood right so that we give kids the best chance when they go onto primary school," he said.

"The funding was announced to get as many kids enrolled in preschools as possible before they go to school because it gives them a great advantage when they start primary school."

Mr George said the fee reduction applied to families with enrolled children who will be four or five years old on or before July 31.

"Across regional NSW the reduction will be up to 52%," he said.

Clunes Community Pre-School director Melinda Gambley welcomed the fee reduction but was concerned that the funding for the package was only for one year.

She said without an ongoing commitment it made it difficult for preschools to budget and plan for the future.

"We need a commitment to a sustainable recurrent funding system," she said.

Ms Gambley called on the Government to fund wage increases for the 4500 early childhood teachers across NSW who have been campaigning for wage rises and to reduce preschool fees for all ages.



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