Funding boost for early learning

Budget 2020 brings a total $320.8 million investment to support the move to higher quality early learning that prioritises the learning, wellbeing and identity of every child as set out in the Early Learning Action Plan.

Budget 2020 provides a $151.1 million funding boost over four years for early learning services to improve the pay of up to 17,000 qualified teachers working in education and care services.

The minimum salary for teachers working in early childhood education centres is currently $45,491 or $46,832, depending on the qualifications held by the teacher. On 1 July 2020, the minimum salary will increase to $49,862 – bringing them in line with kindergarten teachers’ pay. From July 2020, education and care services will receive the additional funding through a 2.3% increase in their subsidy rates.

The majority of children participating in early learning attend an education and care service – in 2019 there were 135,237 children (68%) attending this type of service.

Education and care services, like other early learning service types, will also receive a 1.6% increase in their subsidy rates from 1 January 2021 to help meet cost pressures over the past year, for a combined increase of 3.9% to current rates. The cost adjustment for early learning services costs $122.7 in operating funding over four years.

A further $36.2 million of additional funding over four years will also support home-based early learning services transition to a more professionalised educator workforce. This will lift the quality rate for home-based early childhood education by 5.4% from 1 January 2021, including the cost pressures adjustment. Home-based services on the standard rate with educators completing the Level 4 ECE qualification will also gain five hours of additional visiting teacher support per week, and funding will provide tertiary fees assistance for up to 2,646 students that are not eligible for fees free.

In addition, Budget 2020 also provides extra funding of $3.1 million over four years to help support more than 400 playcentres, so they can continue to provide this early learning choice to around 9,500 children and their families. Playcentre rates will rise by 7.6%, including the cost pressure adjustment.

The funding also provides $7.8 million for the Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Education Provider Assessment Group to continue its work to ensure that early childhood education services meet quality and safety standards.

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