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NSW preschool fees to drop by about 30%

AAP logoAAP 14/09/2016

Community preschool fees in NSW will drop by about 30 per cent, with the state government announcing a record funding boost in the sector.

The $115 million cash injection will mean daily fees will drop from the current $31 to an overall average of $22 where a child is enrolled to attend about 15 hours a week.

The announcement comes after a recent auditor-general report found NSW preschools were the most expensive and least attended in the nation.

"Parents have been very clear that the level of fees is an inhibitor to our kids going to preschools," Premier Mike Baird said.

"They've asked for some relief and today we're delivering."

The NSW government has announced a $115 million funding boost to help lower the cost of preschool fees. © Ten News The NSW government has announced a $115 million funding boost to help lower the cost of preschool fees. Community preschools who enrol four and five-year-old children for at least 600 hours in the year before school will receive increased subsidies from January 1 next year.

Preschools would be contractually required to pass on at least 75 per cent of additional funding to parents in the form of reduced fees, Early Childhood Education Minister Leslie Williams said.

"For Aboriginal children and for those from low-income families, they will virtually get their preschool for free for two years at least," she said during the joint announcement in Sydney.

There are now about 50,000 children enrolled in private preschools but the government's funding will only benefit the estimated 38,000 children attending community preschools.

The federal government holds primary responsibility for providing funding to private operators, Ms Williams argued, and said the NSW government would inject an extra $30 million into long day care.

She also defended the government's handling of its early education budget.

The auditor-general's report found that in the four years up to 2014-15, the government spent $350 million less than was allocated for early childhood education, including keeping more than $220 million it had received in federal government funding.

"It's disgraceful that Premier Mike Baird wants to pat himself on the back for this weak funding commitment after all of the damage his government has done to preschool accessibility and affordability in NSW," Labor early childhood education spokeswoman Kate Washington said.

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