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All Australian children will have access to early learning programs in the year before formal schooling, delivered by a university qualified teacher as part of a major new investment in early childhood development, to be fully implemented by 2013.
The Government will invest around $2.4 billion over the next five years on integrated early childhood initiatives that will provide high quality services for young children and help build a productive, modern economy for Australia's future.
Over the next five years, the Rudd Government will invest $533.5 million to provide all Australian children, including Indigenous children living in remote communities, with access to affordable early learning programs delivered by a qualified teacher. All children will have access to 15 hours a week of early learning programs for 40 weeks a year in the year before formal schooling.
The Government will provide $114.5 million over the next four years to establish 38 child care centres, including six autism-specific centres. This measure is the first phase of the Government's commitment to establish 260 child care centres on school sites and community land.
This Budget will also deliver $22.2 million over four years to develop rigorous new quality national standards for child care and preschool. A new five category quality rating system will be introduced to give parents more information about their child care centre or preschool, and to drive improvement in the quality of child care.
The Rudd Government will invest $1.6 billion over four years to help working families meet higher costs of living by increasing the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) from 30% to 50% of out of pocket costs and by paying the rebate quarterly. The Government will also increase the CCTR cap from $4354 to $7500.
Other initiatives include:
$126.6 million for a National Early Years Workforce Strategy;
$32.5 million over five years to roll out the Home Interaction Program to 50 disadvantaged communities across Australia;
$23.9 million over four years to extend the Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance to cover two years of approved study;
$20.2 million (including existing funding of $2.8 million) over five years to roll out the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) nationally; and
$2.5 million in 2008-09 for the development of an Early Years Learning Framework.
- reprinted from the 7th Space Interactive