Budget boost for young children with extra learning needs

The Coalition Government has today unveiled a major funding increase to enable thousands more young children to access the extra learning support they need before they start school.

“All the evidence shows that children who have a high quality early childhood education (ECE) have a head start on their learning that can set them up for life,” says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“But a lack of funding for early intervention services has meant that far too many children have missed out on behaviour, learning, or speech and language support they need to get the full benefits of ECE.

“As part of Budget 2018, we are boosting the funding for early intervention services to ensure that nearly 8000 more children will receive extra support over the next four years,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said the extra operating funding of $21.5 million over four years is a significant increase on the previous Budget. Early intervention services will also receive an extra $272,000 capital to support the IT costs of additional staff.

“The extra funding is expected to halve the current waiting list for services, as well as help meet future demand pressures,” Tracey Martin said.

“Intervening effectively and early for children with learning support needs makes a real difference to children’s development and learning.

“This includes benefits to language development, social interactions and behaviour, and engagement and attainment in school – and we know success in school supports better outcomes later in life.

“This Budget increase will see an extra 1,750 children receive help in this coming year and contracted early intervention specialist service providers will support an additional 150 children with the highest needs. Within two years this number will increase to an additional 200 children. 

“To achieve this, more frontline early-intervention staff will be employed. Over 60 additional Early Intervention Study Awards and Speech Language Therapy Scholarships will be available to build the workforce who provide early intervention services,” Tracey Martin said.

“This Government believes all children, regardless of their ability or disability, their culture or their family background have the right to an education that sets them up for life,” Jacinda Ardern said.