A record number of parents and families are taking advantage of early education and child care programmes according to a new report.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the data from the ABS’ Preschool Education, Australia, 2015 publication showed the Government’s Universal Access Agreement has encouraged an additional 16,088 children into early childhood education. The Government’s support for high quality early learning continues through its $843 million commitment to Universal Access, which ensures every Australian preschool child access to 15 hours of early learning a week.

“We’ve seen a 15 per cent increase in 2015 of child care and education participation for Indigenous children across stand-alone preschools and Long Day Care centres and a sharp increase of 3,601 children from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Between March 2014 and March 2015 however, we’ve also seen a six per cent jump in long day care fees, costing families and taxpayers more. These price increases highlight the need for the Turnbull Government’s child care reforms and $3 billion additional investment in the system to make it more affordable, accessible and fairer for families. 

“Quality early education in the year before a child starts school not only helps them develop vital literacy and numeracy skills, but also develops the important social skills that will help children adjust to classroom and playground settings.

“The data from the ABS highlights the success of federal policies to bring children from vulnerable backgrounds into the childhood education and care system.”

The Turnbull Government is focused on both quantity and quality in childhood education and care, with the Universal Access Agreement supported by the National Quality Framework.

“We’re working with all states and territories not just to ensure families and parents have access to childhood education and care, but also to ensure the system provides the best possible outcomes for children no matter where they live.

“While Labor seems intent on swiping from the sidelines and delaying reforms that will help families, the only party with a child care policy is the Coalition.”

The 2015 Pre-schools Australia Report is available at: http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4240.0