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$5.2m support to help drought-affected families get kids to pre-school

FAMILIES across the Northern Tablelands have received even more support during the State’s worst recorded drought, with a further round of funding for Early Childhood Education services announced on Friday as part of a $755 million boost to the NSW Government’s drought support package.

Northern Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall joined Education and Early Childhood Minister Sarah Mitchell in Tamworth to announce the $5.2 million funding boost.

Angriculture Minister Adam Marshall and Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Sarah Mitchell at Goodstart Early learning Centre in Tamworth this morning

Mr Marshall said the extra funding would be invested to support community and mobile pre-schools and long day care centres in drought-affected areas like Moree, Glen Innes, Bingara, Warialda, Inverell, Guyra, Armidale and Uralla.

“This is the first time the State Government has expanded the Drought Relief funding to long day care centres as well as community pre-schools, because the drought doesn’t discriminate based on the type of service a child attends,” Mr Marshall said.

“I think this is a great initiative to help our youngest students and their families continue to access the education in the years that are most crucial to a child’s development.”

Mr Marshall said the program would help ease the financial burden of the drought on young families, whilst also ensuring participation in a pre-school program is maintained.

“What is important about this measure is services have the flexibility to spend the funding as they wish, within the guidelines, depending on what support would be most beneficial to each pre-school’s families,” Mr Marshall said.

“For a typical pre-school in the Northern Tablelands, today’s announcement means a funding boost of around $9,000 from August, all of which will go back into the pockets of young families.

“I have spoken to pre-school directors who have told me their children numbers are fluctuating because farming families are cutting back on their expenses and now can’t afford the cost of travel or pre-school fees.

“This support allows pre-schools and long day centres to assist families and children in a range of ways, including travel arrangements to maintain participation in early childhood education, crisis planning or fee subsidies to further support families.

“I know that the drought not only impacts farmers but also regional communities as a whole, and that’s why the NSW Government has delivered a holistic record package that also provides much needed support to our local businesses and services.”

For more information on the Government’s Drought Support Package, visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au