NSW Department of Education Start Strong presentation

Hi and welcome to this Department of
Education Start Strong presentation. My name is Nancy Chang and I am the Director of Programs
and Strategic Projects in the Department of Education’s Early Childhood
Education Directorate. The following presentation is based
on the recent Start Strong roadshows delivered by the department where over 1,000 stakeholders
attended across 19 locations. This presentation is for anyone
who was unable to join us or would like a refresher on the Start Strong reform principles
and funding model. So let’s start with the basics. Why is 600 hours
of quality childhood education important in the year before school? Research shows that children
who participate in a quality early childhood
education program for at least 600 hours
in the year before school are more likely to arrive at school equipped with the social,
cognitive and emotional skills they need to engage in learning. The benefits endure
well beyond primary school. Higher levels
of educational attainment, economic participation and family wellbeing
have all been linked to moderate levels of participation
in early childhood education. This is particularly true for children
from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is why the department
provides funding for three-year-old children from
low-income and/or Aboriginal families at the highest base rate
regardless of location. This approach is consistent with
our national partnership agreement on universal access
to early childhood education with the Commonwealth Government. Currently, NSW has
the lowest percentage of children enrolled in 600 hours
of early childhood education in the year before school. Of the approximately 31,000 children
across Australia enrolled for fewer than 600 hours, three-quarters, or 22,000, of them
are in the state of NSW. The current market landscape in NSW
shows that nearly 65% of children are enrolled in long day care, 30% are enrolled
in community preschools and the remaining are enrolled
in government preschools. However, regardless
of which sector we look at, the proportion of children
enrolled in 600 hours is below the national average. This is why the Start Strong reforms
are so important. Over the next 18 months,
commencing from 1 January 2017, the government is injecting
an additional $115 million into the early childhood
education sector, with $30 million earmarked
for the long day care and $85 million
for community preschools. In addition,
the government has engaged the Community Child Care Co-operative and Community Connections
Solutions Australia to deliver a suite
of sector support programs to ensure that the sector
is well supported in its transition
to the Start Strong funding model. The aims of the Start Strong reform
are simple. More funding
to support local services, more children enrolled in 600 hours
of early childhood education in the year before school, a simpler funding model and, ultimately,
lower fees for families to ensure that affordability is
not a barrier to participation. In designing Start Strong, the department has also retained features
of the previous funding model that we know are important
to preschools. These features include
the retention of loadings, including the Equity, Remoteness,
Language Assistance and Higher Order Multiple loadings. The rates for these loadings
remain unchanged. Additionally, mobile preschools
can continue to opt in for four-year fixed contracts which means that the Start Strong
funding model won’t apply to them. The Start Strong reforms
will commence on 1 January 2017 with a transition period
of six months to allow preschools to adjust
their operating model. During this transition period, preschools with 600-hour enrolments will receive the new increased
600-hour base rates, while enrolments
of fewer than 600 hours will receive the Preschool
Funding Model base rates. After the transition period
on 1 July 2017, children enrolled
for fewer than 600 hours will receive a proportion
of the new increased base rates depending on hours enrolled. For example, if an eligible child
is enrolled for 500 hours per year, the preschool will receive 50% of the
applicable Start Strong base rate. Start Strong uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics
Socio-Economic Index for Areas, also known as SEIFA, to determine per-child base rates. These rates are weighted to families
with preschool aged children to ensure close alignment with families’
socio-economic circumstances so that more funding goes to those
communities that need it most. SEIFA have been found to be
the most robust and accurate measure of family disadvantage and is used as the basis
for determining disadvantage in other funding programs including
by the Australian Government. Under Start Strong, the per-child base funding rates
will increase across all SEIFA bands starting at $4,250 and increasing to $6,600 for services
in the most disadvantaged areas. Children from low-income
and/or Aboriginal families will receive the maximum rate
of 6,600 per child regardless of SEIFA band
classification. A key feature of Start Strong
is the Service Safety Net provided to small providers located
in regional and remote locations. The Safety Net guarantees
small providers $132,000 per year to ensure operational viability
through fluctuating enrolments. In order to qualify
for the Service Safety Net, services must meet
the following criteria. Number one –
provide a minimum of 600 hours of quality early childhood education
per year. Number two – have a licensed capacity
of 20 or fewer places under the Children (Education and Care Services
National Law Application) Act. Have a minimum
of five eligible children enrolled for 600 hours or more, have an ARIA classification of inner, regional, outer regional,
remote or very remote. And lastly, charge less than $55
per day for eligible children. As I’ve mentioned before, Start Strong will see
the per-child base funding rates increase across all SEIFA bands, which means that the vast majority
of services will see an increase
to their funding in 2017. Every preschool receiving an increase
in funding under Start Strong is required to pass through
at least 75% of the funding increase to reduce fees for families, with a focus on reducing fees for children from Aboriginal
and low-income families. The department will monitor
fee reduction through the annual preschool census, the Sector Support Program
and funding compliance audits. In exceptional circumstances, where the preschool cannot reduce
fees by at least 75% of the increase, a justification must be provided. This includes preschools
where fees are already low and cannot pass through all of
the 75% of the increase in funding. The baseline amount to be used to calculate the preschool’s funding
increase is the 2016 calendar year. Preschool Funding Model,
including any transition and/or preschools
for sustainable communities, as well as any loadings
including Language Assistance, Remoteness Loading
and Higher Order Multiples loading. It does not include
any applications-based funding such as capital works,
Community Preschools Outreach Grants, Community Preschools
600 Hours Incentive bonus, Preschool Disability Support Program, Intervention Support Program or any other one-off payments
received. Your 2016 Preschool Funding Model
allocation is the sum of the quarterly payments
received by preschools in December 2015, April 2016,
July 2016, October 2016 and any adjustments made
in December 2016 with reference to the 2016 period. Since the announcement
of Start Strong, many of you have already told us that
you have changed your operating hours to align with the delivery
of 600 hours of preschool. This is why the department
is conducting a one-off voluntary data collection
in February of 2017 so we can capture these changes
and fund accordingly. If you’re already delivering
600 hours of preschool and you don’t have
additional 600-hour enrolments, you won’t need to complete
the data collection and you will continue to be funded based on your August 2016
census results until the next round of census
in 2017. For 2017 only, the usual March preschool census
will be suspended while the ad hoc data collection
is taking place. The department has also launched the ‘It Makes You Think’
parent awareness campaign. The campaign encourages parents to
think about enrolling their child in early childhood education, particularly in the year
before starting school. A number of resources are available
to support the campaign including an interactive website which provides an interactive tour
of a child’s developing brain at www.startstrong.nsw.edu.au We encourage you to support
the campaign, for instance, by sharing information
on social media or including updates
in your newsletters. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call
the department on 1300 755 426 or email us at
[email protected] Also, please don’t forget to check
the department’s website from time to time for new information
on Start Strong. Thanks for watching.

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