The federal opposition has this week pledged to provide funding for children to attend preschool for twice the time currently offered.
It is an announcement that Junee preschool director Rebecca Hart has welcomed.
“If it means fully subsidising the cost for three year olds, I absolutely love the idea,” said Ms Hart.
Currently preschooling is dealt with via the state government, so for any federal changes to take effect, it would require their participation.
Ms Hart operates Junee’s RSL Memorial Preschool, which is uniquely positioned as a large school inside a small town.
Under the current subsidy model, families of four-year-olds are aided in sending their children to preschool for $19 a day.
But parents of three-year-olds are forced to pay $36 per day without the same access to government help.
Ever since the state government cut funding for three-year-old preschoolers in 2013, Ms Hart has been fighting for it to be re-instituted.
Earlier this year, the NSW Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell announced that the funding would be brought back, but that three-year-olds would receive 25 per cent of the subsidies currently offered to four-year-olds.
“The Minister explained that was to make sure four-year-olds were the priority, that three-year-olds would not be taking spaces from them,” said Ms Hart.
“But of course the priority is for those who are attending school the next year, that would always be the case.”
The federal opposition’s announcement follows an education report by the Mitchell Institute in Victoria that links Australia’s overall draining productivity with falling rates in preschool attendance.
With an estimated one in five students falling behind by the time they reach kindergarten, the research advocates for boosting education opportunities for three-year-olds.
“What we’re seeing over and over is that the most crucial time in brain development starts a few years before you’re at school,” said Ms Hart.
“For all age groups, some preschooling is better than none, but more is better still.
“So we’d welcome any move that would make it more affordable to send kids for two years instead of one.”