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A Culture of Spending Part 3 - Council as concerned Psychologists and Educators

The Federal and State governments fund part of a 'Univeral Access to Early Childhood Education Program' (page 1009,  minutes of 21 April 2015). This program provides preschoolers with 15 hours per week, 40 weeks per year access to state funded kindergartens. It is based on the claim that '15 hours of kindergarten is essential to boosting preschool participation, support childrens' development and improve school readiness'

As far as I can tell, federal funding for this program ceased on 31 December 2014. Manningham council now want's the program to be renewed.

The problem is that the jobs of some people at Manningham and other councils are dependent on this agreement (page 4, point 9, National Partnership Agreement On Early Childhood Education.)

Manningham and other councils know that there are good reasons why this program might not be renewed.

First, some of the states have not kept their part of the agreement.

The funding of this program by the federal government is contingent upon the state governments achieving certain carefully specified objectives. These are spelled out in detail in the various "Bilateral Agreement On Achieving Universal Access To Early Childhood Education". These objectives were to be met by 2013.

The federal government conducted an independent audit by Deloittes and basically not all the states had achieved their part of the bargain. And because of this, the federal government can legitimately stop funding the program. (pages 10 and 11, also point 46, National Partnership Agreement On Early Childhood Education.)

"Under the 2008 National Partnership Agreement for Early Childhood Education, the universal access commitment was to be achieved by 30 June 2013, with the NP UAECE designed to ‘maintain’ universal access service delivery. Data provided under the 2013 National Collection is the most recent nationally consistent data source and shows that the universal access commitment was not achieved nationally or by the majority of jurisdictions by the agreed date." (Review of the National Partnership! Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, 2015, page 1.)

So what did the media, the local governments and educators and others embark on? It appears they embarked on a campaign to pressure the Federal government into renewing the program.

Deloittes had some other things to say about the program.

"In terms of effectiveness, the Review Report notes that there is insufficient data to make any robust determination regarding the degree to which the NP UAECE has achieved quality educational outcomes for children. A longitudinal study of the impact of access to preschool is needed to provide concrete evidence on positive outcomes for children." (Review Page 2.)

In short, there is no good evidence, as yet, to suggest this very expensive program ($1.6 billion over six financial years) actually helps children as intended.

The questionable effectiveness of the program and the fact that a majority of states have not fulfilled their part of the agreement and the fact that several council jobs are dependent upon the agreement is reason for the need of a chorus of voices from every possible source to bully and pressure the federal government into renewing this program.

And that is probably the reason why why Manningham council wants to add their voice to the chorus.

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