Free preschool program
PARENTS of eligible threeyear-olds in the Derwent Valley will be among the first in Tasmania to trial a new free preschool placement program.
Last year, the State Government scrapped its controversial plan to lower the school starting age and decided in- stead to implement an additional year of preschool for vulnerable children by 2020.
The State Government will today announce a pilot program for its policy, with Kingborough and the Derwent Valley among the first of five locations.
The five pilot sites will provide about 50 preschool spots.
“Research tells us that if we want to improve lifelong education and wellbeing outcomes, then the best time to invest is in the early years of life when children learn to communicate, get along with others and control and adapt their behaviour, emotions and thinking,’’ Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said.
“Working Together for Three Year Olds will open up preschool access opportunities for a number of eligible threeyear-olds.
“These trial sites will offer families who haven’t been able to access preschool programs the option of 400 hours each year of free early learning for their three-year-olds.”
The new policy will provide up to 2500 free preschool placements from 2020.
“The project team will then work in partnership with the Tasmanian Council of Social Service, parents and carers at these five pilot sites to further fine tune the full rollout in 2020,’’ Mr Rockliff said.
Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw said the program was worth trialling in the Valley.
“I wouldn’t like to take away jobs and education from our early learning centres, but it’s really become unaffordable for families in some cases,” he said.
“I can see arguments for and against the program but it could potentially put a partner of a family back into work.”