The Preschool Reform Agreement: what is it?
The Preschool Reform Agreement is government funding for all children in Australia to go to a quality preschool program in the year before they start school.
The funding ensures that an early childhood teacher works with children for at least 15 hours a week for 40 weeks a year, or 600 hours a year. This might be in a preschool, kindergarten, school, child care centre or other early learning setting.
The Australian Government and all states and territories in Australia have committed to the Preschool Reform Agreement until the end of 2025.
When well-trained staff with the appropriate qualifications plan and teach preschool programs, children are likely to learn and develop well – at the time and in the future.
Preschool programs: why they’re important for children
If your child has a high-quality learning experience at preschool, they’re likely to do better at school. Preschool also helps your child develop key skills that they’ll use in all areas of their lives, for the rest of their lives.
That’s because preschool helps children:
- build new knowledge and skills – for example, they start learning more about numbers, letters and words
- improve their communication and social skills through playing and interacting with other children and adults
- make new friends and develop new relationships with adults
- develop physical skills – for example, children learn to balance on play equipment and practise fine motor skills like drawing with a pencil and cutting with scissors
- develop problem-solving and creative thinking skills
- develop responsibility, independence, confidence and self-worth through doing things like looking after their own belongings and spending time away from home
- get ready for the transition to school.
Learning happens everywhere and all the time for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Even before your child starts a preschool program, your child needs a stimulating environment with plenty of different activities that give them many ways to play and learn.
Do children have to go to preschool programs?
Children don’t have to go to preschool programs. You can choose whether your child goes.
If you choose to send your child to a preschool program, you can choose how often to send your child. You can also choose the program and the setting that best suit your family, location and availability.
If you’d like your child to go to preschool, your options might depend on which state or territory you live in.
Access to preschool programs in your state or territory
State and territory governments are responsible for preschool in the year before they start school. All state and territory governments have agreed with the Australian Government that they will make sure that children have access to 600 hours of preschool.
This means that your child might have various options for preschool in the year before full-time school. Depending on where you live, your child might be able to go to a program at a stand-alone preschool, a mobile preschool, a school or a child care centre.
Even if you live in a remote part of Australia, your state or territory government must make sure that your child can get a preschool program. This might be a distance or online program.
Australian states and territories have varying approaches to preschool. What preschool is called also varies. Find out more about preschool in your state or territory.
Costs for preschool
The Australian Government gives state and territory governments money to help with the cost of putting the Preschool Reform Agreement into action.
There might still be out-of-pocket costs for your child to go to preschool. It’s up to states and territories and providers to work out what cost, if any, will be passed on to you.