Early Childhood Strategy

We know the period from birth to eight years, especially the first three years, sets the foundation for every child's social, physical, emotional and cognitive development. Because of this, we want to make sure every child in the ACT gets the best start to life.

In working towards this goal, the ACT Government is developing an Early Childhood Strategy. The aim of the Strategy is to enable for every child to participate in quality early childhood education and care prior to school.

As identified in the Minister’s discussion paper, the Strategy will focus on four key elements:

  • increasing access, equity and affordability
  • enhancing workforce and qualifications
  • ensuring seamless transitions from education and care to school
  • maximising the benefit to children from money spent

We're working on the Strategy in consultation with early childhood education and care sector, through the ACT Early Childhood Advisory Council.

Early Education for Every Three-Year-Old Child

As a key part of the Strategy, the ACT Government has set a goal to introduce the phased implementation of 15 hours per week, 600 hours per year, of free universal quality early childhood education for three-year-old children in the ACT.

The first phase will focus on children who are most in need of quality early childhood education and care. It will also focus on culturally positive early childhood experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Frequently Asked Questions

Key facts

  • The Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development has announced that the Government wants to make phased-in provision of 15 hours per week, 600 hours per year of free, universal quality early childhood education for three year old children a key part of the ACT Early Childhood Strategy.

Where will early childhood education be available?

  • The specifics of where, when and how this initiative will be rolled out are yet to be determined.
  • In order to ensure that this initiative best meets the needs of the ACT community the government is consulting and developing a model.

Who is going to provide the service?

  • No decision about the model of delivery of the service has been made. The ACT Government is consulting and will work on a new model.
  • Any new model will need to meet the following policy objectives:
    • emphasising the educational and developmental, rather than childminding, value of early childhood education
    • better aligning early childhood education as an essential social good alongside school education
    • ensuring every child regardless of means gains equitable access to high quality early childhood education
    • ensuring that children receive high quality education, including by improving professionalism among the workforce and recognising this in educator conditions
    • making the best possible use of government and community investment in infrastructure and people.
  • All options that meet the ACT Government’s criteria for the initiative will be considered.

When will I be able to access preschool education for my three year old child?

  • This initiative will roll-out in phases, starting in the 2020 calendar year.
  • The first phase will focus on children who experience vulnerability and disadvantage.
  • The first phase will also focus on the provision of culturally positive early childhood experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
  • Exact timeframes will be established after consultation and the options for a model are decided.

Joining the Conversation

Over the coming months we'll have a conversation with parents, the early childhood education sector, schools and the wider community about the Early Childhood Strategy and how we can give access to quality early childhood education to all three-year-olds in the ACT.

You can also join the conversation at ACT Government’s YourSay website or contact the Early Childhood Policy team via ECPolicy@act.gov.au.

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