Start Strong:


One year on and the NSW funding program Start Strong is still causing considerable angst for early childhood directors and teachers in preschools. Bedrock has received a number of letters and there were plenty of members with a view on Start Strong attending the IEU NSW/ACT Early Childhood Conference in September

At the conference:

Julia Cameron

Director, Werris Creek and District Preschool

Start Strong is not a positive for our preschool. We are a rural community and one year we will have a lot of unfunded three year olds, the next year those three year olds will move through and we will have a low enrolment rate for three year olds and high for four year olds. It’s not flexible enough to suit our small rural community with a transient population.

Melinda Gambley

Director, Clunes Preschool

We’re a regional area and the enrolment fluctuates. Funding is low as it is based on last year’s data and the flow of new funding for increased enrolment is a long way off. Getting the funding in a timely way that will support the families in the services and managing all that as a director is really difficult.

Ariane Simon

Director, St Stephen’s Preschool, Sydney

It’s all about productivity and getting women back into the workforce, and nothing to do with education, pedagogy or quality for the children. Start Strong does not follow any research that says two years of early childhood education is what’s important – it’s all about bums on seats. For many services, the industrial adjustments for existing staff who have in place historic agreements or understandings is also a challenge.

Marie Jacobsen

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Councillor

Services are crumbling under the pressure to try and make sure they are doing the 15 hours. Staff are up in arms about being asked to look after children for longer hours than they normally would. I think it’s about getting preschools in the federal arena.

Kate Washington

NSW Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education

It’s really complex, which is a concern, and it creates enormous challenges for the sector and the way services operate. The delay in the census data means the funding doesn’t reflect on the children actually in the service and this particularly impacts on children with special needs. There’s a big question mark on whether Start Strong is delivering the best preschool education.

Letter to the editor

Thank you for the article in Bedrock (June 2017) by Lyn Best regarding Start Strong. I had the same experience as Lyn in that we were told the wrong information at the roadshow about our funding.

We were told that we were getting full funding as we offered before/after school care. However we charge a separate fee for before and after school and I questioned them about this on three separate occasions.

This year they realised that we aren’t meeting the requirements of the model. We now have to make changes to our structure before August. We have reduced our fees significantly from 2016 thinking we were getting full funding.

I have an issue with extending teachers’ contact time, but I have to, to cover the extended hours and ratios.

Teachers are teachers? No way would the government attach funding to schools based on extending pupils hours. Why does it happen to preschool and no one does a thing?

Kate Damo
Birrahlee Children’s Centre