Providing quality, integrated early years services results in better outcomes for families, children and the community.
The Office for Early Childhood Education and Care will develop and implement a Queensland early years strategy to provide a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to enhancing the health, development, learning, safety and wellbeing of young children and their families.
The early years strategy will give Queensland families certainty about services they can expect in areas of family and child health, parenting and family support, and early childhood education and care.
The office is also managing a significant program of capital works to establish facilities for providing integrated early childhood education and care programs and services.
In 2008-09, the office began working with the Australian Government to establish early learning and care centres and Indigenous children and family centres in Queensland.
The office also continued rolling out an infrastructure program, commenced by the Department of Communities, to establish early years centres and early childhood education and care centres.
In 2008-09, grants funding continued for a range of early childhood development programs.
In 2008-09, the office began working with the Australian Government to establish nine children and family centres by 2012, with operational funding provided through to 2014.
The first children and family centre will be opened in Mount Isa and is expected to start operating from mid-2010.
Children and family centres will provide quality early childhood education, care, parenting and family support services for Indigenous children from birth to eight years of age.
In 2008-09, the office began working with the Australian Government to establish early learning and care centres in Queensland.
These centres will provide affordable, age-appropriate early learning programs, delivered by a qualified teacher, for children in the year before formal schooling. Each centre will provide at least 50 long day care places catering for children from 0 to 5 years of age.
In 2008-09, two early years centres began offering services to children and families. Service delivery from Caboolture and Nerang early years centres commenced in November 2008.
These one-stop shops focus on families with children aged birth to eight years, and provide early childhood education and care, family support and health services.
Once established, these centres will assist up to 4000 families each year. At these centres, early childhood education and care services will link with additional support services for some of Queensland's most vulnerable families.
Construction of an early years centre at Browns Plains and planning for a further centre at Cairns is underway. Once completed, these centres will finalise a $32 million commitment to establish four early years centres that provide integrated early childhood education and care, family support, and child and maternal health services.
In 2008-09, the Office for Early Childhood Education and Care continued a program of refurbishing former preschools to provide access to child care or kindergarten and other child and family services on or near school sites.
As part of this program, service delivery commenced in September 2008 from an early childhood education and care centre at Victoria Park in Mackay.
This program of work will continue in 2009-10, with $8.4 million provided for establishing further early childhood education and care services.
The Office for Early Childhood Education and Care provides grants to non-government organisations to deliver early childhood education and care services and programs across Queensland.
In 2008-09, $21.8 million was committed to funded services, including $13.5 million in triennial grants and $8.3 million in one-off grants.
These grants fund service provision in areas of high need and in disadvantaged communities. In 2008-09, programs funded by the office included:
- $2.1 million for remote area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child care - to fund 28 Indigenous organisations to provide 45 childcare and family support services in 31 Indigenous communities
- $1.5 million for childcare hubs - to provide early childhood education, and care and family support services for young children and their families in small, often rural, local communities
- $430 000 for rural and remote children's centres - to deliver long day care, kindergarten services and limited hours care to families living in rural, remote and isolated areas
- $925 976 for early intervention and family support services - including Parentline and Uniting Church Frontier Services - to support parents and children wherever they live through phone and mobile services
- $1.2 million for limited hours care - to operate a licensed occasional childcare service for small groups of children under school age. This provides a valuable resource to communities, particularly in rural, remote and isolated areas where families do not have extended support.