Children with disability will be given more support to attend community preschool under an overhaul of funding arrangements announced today by the NSW Government.
The new Preschool Disability Support Program will make $17 million available to community preschools in NSW — including an extra $2 million directly going to support young children each year.
Funding for children with the highest needs will increase by 30-70 per cent, assisting children who previously were not getting the level of support they need.
Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli said the Preschool Disability Support Program recognises the impact of disability on children, their families and community preschools.
"Attending preschool is an important developmental stage in the life of any young child and it is important to extend this experience to young children with disability," Mr Piccoli said.
"Clearly, all community preschools need extra assistance to support the inclusion of children with disability.
"In particular, children with disability in rural and remote areas often face extra barriers and I am proud there will be increased support to meet the needs of these children."
For the first time in NSW, all community preschools will receive funding to support children with low-level disabilities. This will be distributed according to the total number of children included in the Preschool Funding Model and preschools will not have to apply to receive it.
The new program replaces the current Supporting Children with Additional Needs (SCAN) and Intervention Support Program (ISP) programs for community preschools.
Community preschools will also be able to apply for funding on behalf of specific children following discussions with parents.
Funding will be provided at three different levels, depending on the level of assistance needed for a child to participate in preschool:
- $45 per day for children requiring moderate help;
- $90 per day for children needing considerable adult assistance; and
- $120 per day for children requiring intensive support.
The Department of Education and Communities is seeking a program manager through a public tender process and expects to announce the program manager in October 2014.
"A single program manager overseeing a streamlined application and funding process will maximise the amount of funding going directly to any eligible service," Mr Piccoli said.
"It will also provide advice on how to access support, training and resources to help preschools improve educational outcomes for children with disability."
Applications will open in November 2014 for the 2015 year. Once applications are open, preschools can apply for funding at any time.
This Preschool Disability Support Program has been developed on the basis of recommendations by the Review of NSW Government Funding for Early Childhood Education by Professor Deborah Brennan.
This program supplements the recent Preschool Funding Model, which improved support for community preschools by increasing base funding for all 4 and 5 year old children in 95 per cent of preschools.