$1.9 billion

early childhood services and support

to commence the staged roll out of preschool for 3-year-olds and other key reforms in early childhood across the state, commencing in 2026.

The government is investing an additional $1.9 billion over the period to 2032-33, with the reforms intended to:

  • give every child access to quality teacher-led early childhood education from the age of three years
  • make it easier for families to access early childhood services, and help caregivers back into the workforce
  • improve learning and development outcomes for children.

$715 million over five years to implement key reform initiatives. The reforms consist of seven core elements that together are designed to achieve the government’s ambitious target to reduce developmental vulnerability from 23.8 to 15 per cent over 20 years:

1 Universal 3-year-old preschool

$339.7 million over five years to deliver universal 3-year-old preschool in government and non-government settings, including long day care centres.

The new preschool model for 3 and 4-year-olds will include a teacher-led, quality play-based preschool learning and development program, up to 15 hours per week.

The funding will support early identification of each child’s needs and bring together education, allied health and other supports, particularly for children with identified developmental issues. There will also be investment in better connecting children and families into early childhood services.

To ensure sufficient capacity for 3-year-old preschool a combination of direct investment in government preschool, as well as support for other providers, is required.

Investments will include:

  • upgrading and expanding capacity in government preschools to ensure readiness for 3-year-old enrolments
  • integrated hubs
  • a grant program to incentivise non-government providers to create additional places.

The government is also investing $10.3 million in central support for government out of school hours care (OSHC) provision and to establish an OSHC reform team. Initially, a trial of OSHC in 20 government preschool sites across the state will be undertaken to assess different models of wraparound care.

2 More hours and supports for children most in need

$127.3 million over four years to increase the minimum 15 hours to 30 hours of preschool for 2 000 children at greatest risk of developmental vulnerability at age 3 and 4 in local settings and integrated hubs. This includes the creation of integrated hubs to be co-designed with local communities, opening progressively over the life of the reform, including two initial demonstration hubs opening in late 2025.

3 Growing and supporting our early childhood workforce

$96.6 million over four years including a $56 million early childhood workforce development fund and support for quality teaching and learning in readiness for universal preschool delivery. The Early Childhood Workforce Strategy will be released in mid-2024. Funding will also support the Education Standards Board to increase the frequency of assessment and ratings.

4 Establishing the office for early childhood development

$96.1 million over four years to support the Office for Early Childhood Development in its role as system steward of the early childhood development system in South Australia. This includes the creation of local teams across the state to mobilise government and non-government services in every community to deliver quality preschool and support service integration, implementation research and strengthening data systems.

5 A consistent approach to 4-year-old preschool

$30.6 million over four years to align the support offered through 4-year-old preschool with the enhanced support framework being developed for 3-year-old preschool, including bringing together education, allied health and other specialist supports. This will be introduced in line with the roll out of 3-year-old preschool and will ensure children that receive supports as a 3-year-old continue to receive those supports through 4-year-old preschool, as required.

6 Empowering Aboriginal children

$14 million over four years to establish the Royal Commission’s recommended fund commencing in 2026 and reaching full scale from 2029. This investment will include partnering with Aboriginal communities on a co-design process starting in 2024-25 to increase the benefits Aboriginal children receive from existing 3‑year‑old preschool, investing in early childhood education and care Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and aligning Closing the Gap initiatives with outcomes for early childhood.

7 Connected services across a child's first 1 000 days

$10.8 million over four years to expand early childhood parenting groups through the Child and Family Health Service from 2025-26, deliver ongoing funding for Words Grow Minds to support families with their child’s development, develop referral pathways to ensure children at risk of child protection are connected with early childhood services, and provide expert advice and resources to support the inclusion of children with additional needs and developmental vulnerabilities.

Roll out strategy

A staged roll out of this generational reform over seven years from 2026 is required in order to build the workforce and infrastructure needed to expand high quality early years educational services across the state, taking a similar approach to how such reforms have been staged in other jurisdictions.

Participation and hours offered will increase progressively during the roll out. All 3-year-old children in South Australia will be able to access a 15-hour per week preschool program by 2032.

A further $1.2 billion in the years beyond the forward estimates to 2032 has been allocated to continuing and completing the implementation of the early childhood reforms, including through delivering universal 3-year-old preschool throughout the state, establishing more integrated hubs and offering 30-hour preschool places for all of the 2 000 children at greatest risk of developmental vulnerability.

A timeline graphic showing past and projected milestones in early childhood reform. In August 2023 the Royal Commission into Early Childhood education and Care report was released. In October 2023 the Office for Early Childhood Development opens. In February 2024 the state government responds to the Royal Commission, committing to action on the full suite of recommendations. In June of 2024 the early childhood workforce strategy is released. In 2025 the first two integrated hub demonstration sites are to open by the end of the year (2025), in Port Pirie and in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. Between 2025 and 2032, 20 integrated hubs will open in total. In 2026 preschools in parts of the state’s Far North, West Coast, Flinders Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, APY Lands and Outback regions deliver a 3-year-old preschool program. Three preschool demonstration sites in metropolitan Adelaide deliver a 3-year-old preschool program. In 2027 preschools in parts of the state’s Riverland, Eyre Peninsula, Limestone Coast and the mid-North deliver a 3-year-old preschool program. In 2028 preschools in the greater Adelaide region, the Upper Spencer Gulf, the Adelaide Hills and in the north of the state deliver a 3-year-old preschool program. In 2029 preschools in outer metropolitan Adelaide deliver a 3-year-old preschool program. In 2030 preschools in inner metropolitan Adelaide deliver a 3-year-old preschool program. In 2032 every South Australian child has access to 15 hours per week of preschool in the two years before school. Between 2026 and 2032 long day care services across the state that meet quality and workforce requirements partner with the government to offer a 3-year-old preschool program (6 to 15 hours per week), with numbers growing over time. Over 60 per cent of 3-year-olds already attend long day care services.