Working Together (WT) is a Tasmanian Government initiative which is opening up opportunities for eligible children to participate in free, quality early learning in the year before they start kindergarten.
This is done by:
- Funding places in early childhood education and care centres in targeted locations across Tasmania;
- Working with families, early childhood educators and community services to get the right support to help children to thrive; and
- Providing professional learning opportunities for the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector so they can assist these children and their families in the best way possible.
The WT model
The WT initiative supports the vision of Tasmania’s Strategy for Children – Pregnancy to Eight Years 2018-2021, by promoting Quality, Equity and Partnerships – three key elements identified to improve the wellbeing of our children.
Research shows play-based programs for young children can provide a strong basis for later success at school. They support the development of socially competent learners, able to face challenges and create solutions.
Children who have participated in high-quality child care perform better academically than their peers, and children who are socially disadvantaged show the most benefit. Early childhood education and care therefore has great potential to close academic performance and attainment gaps between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds
(Elliott 2006; Moore et al. 2012; Moore 2006).
Research shows children who are involved in early learning have improved educational and life outcomes. Neuroscience has shown the early years, particularly birth to eight years, are critical for optimal learning and development. Preschool attendance has shown consistent positive short and long-term effects across the world including in the US, Europe, Canada and New Zealand.
Play-based programs delivered by qualified early childhood educators improve children’s learning and developmental outcomes and are particularly important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
A recent independent report shows that children who participate in quality early childhood education have improved school results, are less likely to need additional support in school and are more likely to complete Year 12.
Attendance in early learning programs is also linked to better health and employment prospects and the benefits are even greater for vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Another report showed two years of early learning before school has more impact than one, especially for children who are developmentally vulnerable.
Compared to other OECD countries, Australia is lagging behind in early childhood education. Australia ranked in the bottom third for participation in early childhood education and care. Only 15% of Australian three-year-olds are enrolled in a preschool program.
Modelling indicates 40% of children in Tasmania (approximately 2,500) are not engaged in early learning.
There are also economic benefits of early learning. A report has shown quality preschool delivers a two-for-one return on investment for Australia: that is, for every dollar governments invest in preschool, two dollars will be returned to the economy.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Australia ratified in 1990, recognises children’s right to education, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals recognise the importance of quality early childhood education and care in delivering that right to all children.
To be eligible to participate in WT, children must be three or four years old and in their year before kindergarten and:
- Be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander decent and/or
- Receive support or interventions from the Child Safety Service and/or
- Have parents/primary carers who hold a Health Care Card and/or
- Meet two or more criteria under Parental Evaluation of Development Status (PEDs).