The ACT government has signed a preschool funding agreement with the Commonwealth Government worth $40 million over four years.
The funding will allow up to 25,000 ACT children to attend at least 15 hours of preschool per week in the year before they start school.
The deal runs from 2022 to 2025 and is conditional on the territory enacting certain reforms in the sector.
However, it does not provide universal access to early education for three-year-olds, which is an ambition of the ACT government's early childhood policy.
Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said the agreement will ensure ACT children have access to high-quality preschool options and are better prepared for their first year of school.
"Importantly, this funding is linked to new reforms, including improving preschool participation and developing an outcomes measure, and will benefit all children, regardless of the type of preschool they attend," Mr Robert.
ACT Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development Yvette Berry said the agreement would provide funding certainty to parents, educators and the sector.
"Well established research has shown that the early years of a child's life, including preschool, set the foundation for every child's social, physical, emotional and cognitive development," Ms Berry said.
"High quality early childhood education plays a critical role in supporting children to learn. For children experiencing vulnerabilities or disadvantage, this early education plays an even more significant role in tackling inequality.
"This agreement maintains Commonwealth funding for ACT Preschools and, importantly, will ensure all ACT children and their families are supported during these significant years."
In accepting the funding Ms Berry wrote to Mr Robert to reiterate the ACT's commitment to preschool for three-year olds.
"Should the Commonwealth wish to financially contribute to the rollout of 15 hours a week of preschool to three-year-old children in the ACT, we would be very willing to have that discussion with them," an ACT government spokeswoman said.
The ACT Education Directorate will work with government and non-government preschools in 2022 to design and prepare for the reforms, which will commence more fully int 2023.
The federal government announced the $2 billion spend on preschool over four years in the 2021-22 budget which was contingent on making agreements with each state and territory.
States and territories will be required to show that they are distributing the federal funding equally so that all children benefit, regardless of the setting the type of setting they attend for preschool.
From 2025, they will need to meet attendance performance targets, which are yet to be created, to access ongoing funding for preschool.
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