Country kids miss out again

ICPA-NSW calls on NSW Government for preschool subsidies

News
Aa

The families of many remote preschool age students are travelling thousands of kilometres a year just to make sure they can have face-to-face preschool time.

Aa
Zoe Healy is among many remote preschool age students whose families are travelling thousands of kilometres a year just to make sure they can have face-to-face preschool time. Photo: Supplied

Zoe Healy is among many remote preschool age students whose families are travelling thousands of kilometres a year just to make sure they can have face-to-face preschool time. Photo: Supplied

Like most kids Zoe Healy loves going to preschool to do her "school work" and play with her friends.

But she has to travel a 320 kilometre round trip (14,000km a year) to the nearest preschool at Buronga, which she can only do once a week due to distance and the cost of travelling.

She is not alone.

The four-year-old is among many remote preschool age students whose families are travelling thousands of kilometres a year just to make sure they can have face-to-face preschool time.

Under the federal government's strategy every child should have access to 600 hours of preschool in the year before school.

But there are many isolated students who can't attend preschool because of distance and costs as there is currently no federal or state government funding that can be accessed for remote students to attend face-to-face preschool.

This is why the Isolated Children's Parent's Association of NSW (ICPA-NSW) has been lobbying the NSW Government to fast-track the inclusion of preschool children on the School Drive Subsidy (SDS) that is available to school-age students.

It's been nearly two years since the The Land first reported on this issue (May 2019) where parents were driving 20,000km a year so their child can attend preschool.

Related reading:Parents drive 20,000km for preschoolers

"Early childhood education is the best investment we can give our children prior to them starting full time-school, no matter where we live," ICPA-NSW president Claire Butler said.

"But what we are seeing in rural and remote areas is that those children aren't attending preschool before they go to school so they are starting behind their city counterparts.

"It has been well documented access to early childhood services helps form those early years of education before children come to school. If the SDS school-age children receive was extended to preschoolers it will be a helping hand for parents."

Zoe's mother Nerida Healy from Pooncarie, who has driven all her four children to preschool, echoed Mrs Butler's sentiments saying the SDS would go a long way to assisting parents.

"I know I'm one of several in our area doing the same thing as kids need that face-to-face interaction," Mrs Healy said.

"Isolated school-age children are eligible for assistance but preschoolers are not. It's frustrating as we thought we were close to solving this but nothing has been done...this will make a huge difference to long-term learning outcomes."

The ICPA-NSW is also calling for preschools to be established in small isolate schools where there is no access.

The NSW Government was contacted for comment.

Have you signed up to The Land's free daily newsletter? Register below to make sure you are up to date with everything that's important to NSW agriculture.

Love agricultural news? Sign up for The Land's free daily newsletter


Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by